Snow boots or sandals?

Published February 16, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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For a while around here, we had to decide whether to wear flip-flips or snow boots on any given day.

I never actually wore flip-flops because I hadn’t had a pedicure yet, but I saw lots of people wearing them.

Remember a few weeks ago when it was 70? Then, it dropped about 40 degrees in a day or two.

My husband and I ate outside for lunch on the 70-degree day, and I actually got hot, but I didn’t dare complain.

The snow was pretty, but it causes too many problems — from rescheduling spelling bees (for which my husband is a judge) to canceling school and university classes.

It’s fun to have a day off from school until you have to make it up, and other holidays get snatched away.

I can’t believe how colleges cancel classes at the drop of a hat (or snowflake) these days. I’ve had this conversation with everyone older than 40.

When I went to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in the ’80s, (yes, the big-hair, parachute-pants, twist-beads ’80s), class was never canceled. I lived both on and off campus while I went there.

My husband lived on campus (we only overlapped a semester, and I didn’t know him), and he said the same thing. Classes. Never. Canceled.

Basically, you got yourself to class.

Going back even further, my mother, also an ASU graduate, said she remembers walking across campus in the snow holding onto the collar of her friend’s coat, “so if she fell, I could jerk her up like a cat,” my mother said.

Not only that, my mother said, but “we had to wear dresses.” It’s hard to believe in a world where college students wear pajama bottoms to class, but once upon a time, not that long ago, women couldn’t wear pants on the ASU campus.

This is kind of like the we-had-to-walk-three-miles-to-school-type competition.

My husband and I were talking about this with a student we saw after exercising one day, and my husband told her that class was never called off when I went to school because “the horses could make it through the snow.”

She said: “Oh. Wait. What?”

My husband got an email from a student from outside of Conway this year, two days after the snow had cleared.

The girl, and he did not reveal any personal information about her, told him she would not be in class because she heard some roads were still bad in town. And, she copied and pasted the university policy into the email that states students who cannot get to class because of inclement weather aren’t responsible for the work.

Pitiful.

His reply was much nicer than mine would have been. Just one more reason I’m not cut out to teach.

I sent an email to the esteemed University of Central Arkansas president, Tom Courtway, about how this decision is made — are students just wimpier, does the campus close because more students live somewhere else, or is it a liability issue?

He replied quickly and with lawyerly wisdom, of course.

“The decision to close or have a delayed opening is a very difficult one. We have approximately 3,550 students living on campus or in apartments we own close by. That means about 7,000 students commute. This is in addition to our faculty and staff. So, in making the decision to close or open, we have to take into account not only the streets in and around the campus, but also road conditions in the county and sometimes elsewhere for those students, faculty and staff that need to get here safely. We make sure we err on the side of safety. Last week, we decided to close at 5:30 one morning, based upon a forecast of freezing rain, which then hit Conway about 7 a.m.”

He gets up at 4-4:30 a.m. to drive around and check roads on these days, by the way.

“Having said all of that, I believe any person you speak with will tell you that this is the toughest winter we’ve had in a long time. I certainly don’t want to see another one like this for a long time, if ever,” he said.

Good. I hope not.

My toes are painted red, and I am ready for my flip-flops.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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