Despite 38-hour standoff, classes stay in session

After a snow emergency last week and a standoff at the Graduate Hotel this week, most University buildings remained open and classes were not canceled.

A group of people stand outside the bounds of police tape, looking on at the developing situation at the Graduate Hotel on Tuesday.

Jack Rodgers

A group of people stand outside the bounds of police tape, looking on at the developing situation at the Graduate Hotel on Tuesday.

Eliana Schreiber

Undeterred by a 38-hour standoff and a foot of snowfall in the last two weeks at the University of Minnesota, classes remained in session — to many students’ frustration.

After a snow emergency last week, the nearly two-day-long standoff at the Graduate Hotel Monday and Tuesday and campus involvement with Super Bowl LII, many students are confused about the University’s process in canceling classes school-wide.

Mike Berthelsen, vice president for University Services, said the University rarely closes entirely, and many factors must be considered before canceling a day of classes.

He said the last time he remembers the whole University closing was sometime in the early 1990s. 

Ultimately, Berthelsen said safety is the priority throughout the decision-making process.

“The overriding principle is … how do we manage safety for the University community?” he said. “We try to think about all the variables that go into that.”

Classes were not canceled at the University Monday or Tuesday during the Graduate Hotel incident.

Lacey Nygard, a University spokesperson, said the police set up a safe perimeter around the situation and felt it was contained.

“They assessed the situation and there was no other ongoing risk to other parts of campus,” Nygard said. “They were consistently monitoring that.”

Berthelsen emphasized that the University-wide memo sent out during the snow emergency last week gave faculty discretion to cancel classes on an individual level.

“That particular set of decisions was left very local, and [on] a small scale,” he said.

Communications junior Zarea Fonge said she was surprised none of her classes were canceled over the past week and a half, despite multiple threatening incidents.

Fonge said she was more worried for her safety during the snow storm last week than during the standoff at the Graduate Hotel, since police set up a safety perimeter blocking off the area.

She said she still feels uneasy about the influx of people around campus this weekend with events surrounding the Super Bowl.

“They keep telling us to be safe, but you know there’s a lot of people here that we don’t know,” Fonge said.

Berthelsen said the University is taking steps to prepare campus for the implications of the Super Bowl, but added that it shouldn’t affect most classes for the remainder of the week.

“Our prime goal… is to maintain safety,” he said. “And to highlight the University of Minnesota within that.”