On Wednesday, Sep. 12, the university decided to cancel classes and close offices for Friday, Sep. 14 through Sunday, Sep. 16. This decision came after other North Carolina schools opted to either evacuate or cancel classes due to the severity of Hurricane Florence, currently classified as a Category 4 hurricane.
Many schools, including Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte, NC State and Elon decided to close by 5 p.m. Wednesday earlier this week, and schools closer to the coast, including Elon, have been asked to evacuate.
However, Wake Forest opted to wait to make a final decision about class cancellation, until more information was gathered. This approach is in keeping with historic decisions by the university to delay communication in efforts to avoid confusion and deliberately make a choice in difficult situations.
“It’s frustrating that it took so long to hear back given that other universities were so quick to announce their decisions when the news of the strength of the hurricane broke,” senior Sophie Scheinman said.
Wake Forest has been in communication with the campus community about preparations for the storm since an initial email was sent Monday. The Office of Communications and External Relations sent a message to students on Wednesday saying, “University emergency managers continue to prepare for the storm in consultation with facilities, food services, health services and residence life and housing staff. Residence halls will remain open, food service will be available and Student Health Service will remain available.”
While operations on campus are expected to be relatively normal throughout the weekend, students have been taking matters into their own hands by preparing ahead of time. Many have stocked up on supplies such as non-perishable foods, water, flashlights and other essentials in case the power on campus does go out.
One concern that on-campus students do have is residence hall accessibility if the power goes out. In an email to students on Wednesday, Residence Life and Housing stated that “In the event of power outage, please note that all card readers in Residence Life and Housing facilities will default to locked.”
This leaves those who do venture outside of their halls at this time to rely on another resident or an on-duty resident advisor to let them back in.
In addition, Residence Life and Housing is working with those living off campus to provide support. In the email released Wednesday, the university said, “Residence Life and Housing plans to send information to off-campus students today regarding how the University can best support them if they experience hurricane-related issues.”
“In complete honesty we aren’t too worried; it’s comforting to know that everybody seems to be taking the right precautions,” said senior Elizabeth Hall, a resident of Deacon Place off campus. “And the fact that we are so close to campus and live with so many other Wake Forest students also contributed to us feeling a bit safer. I will say I’m more nervous about friends of mine that go to school near the coast.”
While Hurricane Florence continues to be a point of concern for many, the university is actively monitoring the situation and focusing on the safety of the students and campus community. The university plans to release more information as it comes in.
On Tuesday, the university tested the Wake Alert emergency notification system to verify that the “primary information source during an emergency at Wake Forest,” according to the university, was functional before the storm hit.