All in-person exams cancelled on December 20 due to snow

UBC has cancelled on-campus exams for Tuesday, December 20 due to weather conditions. 

The university announced some weather-induced cancellations in a notification posted at 8:47 p.m on Monday, with an update at 8:29 a.m. on Tuesday announcing all closures. The notification also said UBC’s Robson Square campus will be closed on Tuesday. 

Cancelled exams will be rescheduled for the start of term two, according to the announcement. 

The Point Grey campus is not closed, however, and essential staff are expected to go to work. 

Exams were last cancelled due to snow in 2016. UBC also cancelled a day of classes earlier this semester due to snowy conditions. 

Students have expressed anxiety online about making it to their exams in the snow, with some saying they would sleep in the Nest — which the AMS has kept open 24/7 through exam season. 

“It feels irresponsible for the university to expect both students and instructors alike to risk their health and safety commuting to campus in dangerous conditions,” read one Reddit post

According to a statement sent to The Ubyssey by Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations, the decision to cancel exams is "based primarily on the safety and efficiency of commute conditions and whether the campus is accessible for students, faculty and staff."

He wrote that a shift to online exams was also discussed, but ultimately decided against, with other safety options considered.

"The consensus agreement was that a 100% shift may not support pedagogy in all instances."

The Registrar's Office also decided not to allow professors to pivot to online exams in the case of cancellations as some students might not have the necessary technology, according to Ramsey.

Other students and some faculty have also voiced frustration with the timing of snow announcements. 

“This is a situation in which a GO-NOGO communication should be happening each time a decision is taken to cancel or continue exams. Students are left stressed and there are rumours out there of cancellations,” wrote professor Mark Mac Lean in a tweet. 

Alexei Villareal, a second-year English commuter student told The Ubyssey he felt some communication on the weather affecting exams should have come earlier from the university.

"If you're not going to cancel more exams, at least communicate earlier ... I understand that the university can only do so much to support, but at the same time [they could give] students ample time to prepare for these situations."

Ramsey wrote that UBC's goal is to "give students and instructors as much advance warning as possible if exams are going to be cancelled."

Decisions are normally made twice a day, communicated at 9 p.m. about next-day morning exams and 9 a.m. about afternoon exams.

Ramsey wrote that in the case of students being stranded on campus, the university may decide to keep libraries open for extended hours.

For students looking for warm spaces on campus, IKB is open until 12 a.m., the Student Recreation Centre is open until 11 p.m., and $99 hostel blocks are available for booking online at Orca Studios.

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning on Monday evening for Metro Vancouver, with a forecasted 10 to 20 cm of snow through Tuesday evening, and a temperature high of -6 degrees.  

Translink has also issued an advisory, encouraging commuters to use caution and give themselves extra time for potential delays.  

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

This piece was updated at 9:14 a.m. on December 20th to include up-to-date information and comment from UBC, and at 4:00 p.m. on December 20 to include comment from Alexei Villareal.