Go to school? Yes and no


Students walk to class along Normal Road during the snowstorm Monday. An NIU advisory urged people not to travel and said classes were not canceled but absences would be excused, leading to some confusion.

Danny Cozzi

Advisory leads to course confusion

The word of the day is “ambiguous.” If you need a definition, it was likely included in the NIU text advisory sent out in regard to Monday’s nasty weather.

NIU issued a text advisory just after 11 a.m. Monday with more ambiguity than the awkward goodbye on an uncertain, less-than-promising first date.

“I know there was some confusion initially, and believe me, I thought that, that might be the case,” said Brad Hoey, director of communications and marketing.

Boy, you’re telling me.

The advisory text read, “STAY PUT from 11 to 4. Do not travel.” Further confusion was posted on niu.edu/weather Monday, which said things like, “…NIU recommends all faculty/staff/students REMAIN IN PLACE where you are between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. [Monday] … .”

OK, so I should have sit tight in the Northern Star office and not go to class, right? Well, not necessarily.

“NIU campus locations and offices will remain open [Monday],” the page also said prior to an update at 6 p.m. Monday evening.

Then I guess I should have done exactly the opposite of what the initial text advisory told me to do, right? Well, maybe.

“Students should contact their faculty members using established protocols to confirm the status of class meetings scheduled [Monday],” the page read.

But wait, it got even better — and by “better,” I mean more confusing.

“Weather-related absences will be excused,” the page said.

So instead of NIU giving students a clear indication on whether to go to class or “stay put,” the university figured thousands upon thousands of students ought to email and call their professors to see the status of each individual class between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Hoey said it was important for students to be aware of the weather conditions. But the snowstorm didn’t result in canceled classes or campus being closed down.

“There’s often times classes have been canceled but university services have remained open,” Hoey said.

In hindsight, it would have saved students a heap of communicative chaos had the university canceled classes, kept its services operating and advised students to wait out the storm before traveling to or from campus again.

But instead, students were advised to “stay put” unless they needed to go to class but to understand weather-related absences were to be excused despite the fact all classes were not canceled.

Hoey said the now-beloved phrase “stay put” was not the best choice of words.

So, if you were unsure if you needed to be in class Monday, take comfort in knowing the entire university had no idea, either.