Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: It’s winter, chill in the air, snowflakes falling, the whole shebang. You live in the mountains of northeast Tennessee and have an 8:15 class at ETSU tomorrow morning.
The road is covered in a layer of white. You’re checking the university’s Facebook page, where other students have been posting about snow days and icy roads. Among the comments and prayers to Dr. “Snowland,” there’s something else.
Tammy McNotNice: “All of these students complaining about a little bit of snow.
You won’t get snow days when you have actual jobs. If you can’t drive tomorrow, get a hotel room in town and walk. It’s your responsibility to find a way to get to class.”
Forgetting the fact that Tammy just acknowledged students don’t have “actual jobs” but then recommended that they spend money to get a hotel room (Do you think I have a money tree, Tammy? I’m just tryna graduate without loans.), the “just deal with it” solution is not a solution.
There’s a problem that needs to be addressed. According to SafeWinterRoads.org, 1,300 people are killed on snowy, slushy or icy roads each year, and de-icing measures often ignore or under-serve far rural areas.
It’s why schools in those areas are closed more often during the winter.
But if students and employees could remain at home on these days, dangerous roadways and unskilled drivers would pose no danger to them. It’s not that students are “special snowflakes” that should have a day off, it’s that everyone should feel they have the option to stay home and safe.
To students, the situation can feel more desperate, though. Unlike most employees with an “actual job,” students don’t receive paid time off, sick days or personal days.
If you have a test on a snowy day and your teacher has a “no excuses” attendance policy, you have to show up or risk failing the class (and losing the money you paid for that class).
You can try sending an email with a picture of both your road and your 90s model, two-wheel-drive car covered in ice, but this doesn’t guarantee you any sympathy.
Here’s a similar one from Tammy: “Students complaining about parking. Show up early and walk. There’s plenty of parking, you just need to stop being lazy.”
I have no problem with walking to class. Most days, I even enjoy it.
I have a problem with walking close to a mile to class in business clothes, showing up with sweat rolling down my back, my makeup melting off my face and my hair unraveling from its bun, then learning that the air conditioner is broken. And my formal presentation (20 percent of my grade) starts in five minutes.
Why shouldn’t we work to resolve this by improving parking?
Moreover, if one of the university’s goals is to increase enrollment, shouldn’t we know these students (and the additional faculty required to support a larger student population) will be able to park on campus?
Not just in these cases, but in all aspects of life, shouldn’t we work to improve a situation rather than just dealing with it?
And why are some people inclined to tell others to “stop complaining” when acknowledging an issue is the first step to resolving it?
While “dealing with it” may actually be the best motto today or tomorrow, it’s not a long-term solution, and short-sightedness is ultimately harmful to our society.
We have massive, impressive brains; let’s use them to see the big picture and to make large-scale improvements.