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Seattle University


When It Snows...

Written by Mike Thee
January 24, 2011

When the flakes fell earlier this month, students, faculty and staff were most likely to first check the university’s homepage or their SU e-mail to learn whether there would be a closure or delayed opening—this according to a survey conducted last week by Marketing Communications. 

More than three-quarters of the survey’s respondents reported going first to either homepage or their SU e-mail to see if the university was opening on Jan. 12, with 41 percent saying they went to the website first and 35 saying e-mail was their first destination. Other channels respondents checked first included television/radio/ (9 percent); the SU hotline (6 percent) and the university’s Facebook page (6 percent).  

The survey also revealed that nearly three-quarters of all respondents thought the announcement, which was made by 6 a.m., gave them ample time to make a decision about their day, with 74 percent saying the notification came early enough. Those who needed more lead time tended to be commuting from distant places and/or needing to report to work well in advance of the usual 8 a.m. opening, as described in survey comments. 

Between the Jan. 12 delayed opening and the closures last November, SU’s snow closure communication system is getting a lot of exercise in recent weeks. Once the university decides to close or open late, an announcement is deployed through multiple channels. The idea, explains Soon Beng Yeap, assistant vice president for Marketing Communications, is to “cast as wide a net as possible and reach people in a diversity of ways. We know some prefer to check the web, some prefer e-mail, others call into the hotline, and so on. Our goal is to put the information out there in as many of the places people might be looking—and as quickly as possible.” 

The survey, conducted Jan. 18-21, generated a sizable response, with 1,289 students, faculty and staff participating. An open-ended question inviting respondents to share their thoughts, generally, on the university’s snow closure procedures generated more than 500 comments. While the responses ran the gamut, many encouraged the university to use text messages to inform the campus community of closures and delayed openings. In fact, in 120 of the total 534 comments an interest was expressed interest in adding text messaging to the mix. 

“The university is grateful for the feedback,” says Yeap. “All of the input will be considered and will further strengthen the university’s snow closure procedures.”