Monday, February 1, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby (or a Lesson in Bureaucracy)

. Monday, February 1, 2010

(Go ahead, push play. You know you want to)

UNC suspended classes until 10:00 a.m. this morning. This not only makes no sense, it actually has the opposite of its intended effect. The reason to cancel Monday morning classes following a Saturday morning snow is to minimize employee and student travel on hazardous roads. This is smart, because here in the Triangle city crews are incapable of managing to clear roads after a frozen precipitation event. This may be a function of equipment shortages (why spend a lot of money preparing for rare events) or lack of knowledge. As a consequence, every time we have some event, roads remain treacherous for a number of days. So, the University (and local schools) suspend classes so that we aren't traveling in dangerous conditions.

However, cancelling class until 10:00 actually exposes students and employees to more treacherous road conditions. Nothing magical occurs between 7:00 and 9:30 (the time I would have to get in my car to make a 10:00 class) to make the ice disappear from roads. The sun rises and we see a little bit of melting. Moreover, as anyone accustomed to driving or walking in winter conditions knows from experience, ice covered by 1/16th of an inch of melted ice (i.e., water) is actually more treacherous than black ice. And it turns out that science actually supports individual experience. By cancelling classes until 10:00, therefore, the University unintentionally encourages students and employees to travel in conditions that are more dangerous than those they are trying to protect us from.

This is why I hate bureaucracy. It makes us stop thinking. Oh, and this is why I cancelled my 11:00 a.m. class.


Zia said...

That video is incredible. Thanks for taking me way back, Dr. O.

Ice, Ice, Baby (or a Lesson in Bureaucracy)




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