Milw. School of Engineering open Monday, draws mixed reaction

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The bitter cold and Wind Chill Warning resulted in many schools being cancelled on Monday, January 6th -- and many will be closed on Tuesday. But at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, classes were in session on Monday.

The decision to hold classes at MSOE on Monday drew reaction that goes both ways.

Some found the decision objectionable, and posted that fact on MSOE's website. One person wrote: "Frostbite exposure in 10 minutes isn't enough to cancel classes? As a professor, I find this highly irresponsible."

"If it were a number of days at this temperature, I'm sure ultimately we would need to close, but for one day -- maybe we can get by," MSOE President Hermann Viets said.

Viets says the school did not close like Milwaukee Public Schools because it's an entirely different institution.

"MPS has to worry about buses and MPS has to worry about little children. We don't have either one of those. We have a very compact campus. Our campus in the longest direction is less than five or six blocks," Viets said.

Viets says of the approximate 2,600 student body, 80 to 90 percent live within easy distance of campus, and half of them live in dorms.

So what do other faculty members have to say about the decision?

"It's a bit more of a challenge, but if you really want to be out in front and leading, you know, you've got to be able to take the challenges and deal with them," Professor Jeffrey Blessing said.

FOX6 News didn't find any students out complaining about the school not closing -- possibly because such students didn't get out for class, unlike Shannon Larson.

"I had a class this morning and we had like four people in my class," Larson said.

The school also had four vans circulating around campus, providing rides for students headed to class -- many with volunteer drivers.

Holly Denfeld didn't take the van, but walked to class instead.

"It kind of sucks a little bit but it's whatever. You got to do what you got to do. It's your choice if you want to miss class I guess. We're all adults here," Denfeld said.

Viets says the school will monitor the forecast and if the sub-freezing temperatures persist, there is a chance the school would close, as it did in 1996.