In theory, students really shouldn’t look forward to snow days. After all, when one is putting forth thousands of dollars each semester to earn a degree, it would make sense to want to attend every class possible. However, that is seldom the case. Be that as it may, snow days at the college level tend to be only reserved for the most extreme weather so when one is called, it is almost always a necessity.
Last week’s weather could certainly constitute as extreme weather, and thankfully Illinois State made the call to shut down the University. Chancellor Phyllis Wise of the University of Illinois disagreed however, and received quite a bit of backlash for it.
What followed after her notice that she would not be canceling school was a great example of how social media, given enough disappointment and anger, can bring out the absolute worst in people. What started out as a few disgruntled tweets soon escalated to personal insults toward Wise. What then followed were thousands of racist and sexist insults, cumulating in quite a few threats of violence. All because some students were told they would have to attend school on a school day.
To be fair, the weather was awful and the University should have been closed. Deciding to shut down an entire university is no doubt a tough decision, but during conditions where exposure over 10 minutes could be life threatening, it is in everyone’s best interest for school to be closed. Even though no one was injured, the risk was still there.
That being said, the repulsive insults that were directed towards Wise were completely inexcusable. No human being deserves that. While they didn’t realize it, the individuals that posted these insults on the Internet were affecting the reputation of all U of I students, and it was an incredibly ugly one.
The reaction of these students shows us how social media can be misused. However, it also provides a perspective for us. While snow days and class cancellations can be great, students shouldn’t expect to receive them. It’s not why we’re here. If anything, the outcry that some U of I students exhibited not only implies that they need to be in class, but perhaps they should be taking some diversity classes as well.