Info from March 19 Call with President Beebe

Westmont will activate its Shelter Activated for Flood Emergencies (SAFE) plan beginning Tuesday evening, March 20. Classes and activities will continue as planned through noon on Tuesday. We have designated responders and trained emergency response members of our community available and scheduled to be on site through Thursday and as needed, as well as medical personnel and their support staff.

Nothing will be held on campus between noon on Tuesday, March 20, and noon on Thursday, March 22. The campus will reopen two hours after the county lifts the evacuation order.

No Tuesday Afternoon Classes, March 20, and other activities:
Tuesday classes will be held before noon but shortened. There will be no Tuesday afternoon classes.
Class schedule:
8:00-9:50 am classes are now scheduled for 8:00-9:20 a.m.
10:00-11:50 am classes are now scheduled for 9:30-10:50 a.m.
Classes meeting Tuesday morning on different schedules (for example from 9:00 to 11:50) will not meet.

Wednesday Classes, March 21:
Classes will not be held on campus, and professors will communicate with their students about work they should complete remotely. The plan is for the Dining Commons to remain open for regular meals. It’s important for us to keep the academic schedule as normal as possible, and our students are asking for this as well. We’re being very respectful and responsive to all warnings and advisories as we carefully plan all options.

Thursday Classes, March 22:
Classes will resume on Thursday two hours after the evacuation order is lifted. We anticipate resuming classes by noon at the latest. We will post all updates on the website early in the morning as available regarding the academic schedule. The class schedule will then continue into the evening until all classes for the day are done.

The library will remain open for students throughout the week.

When the rains have subsided, we will assess the total amount of lost class time during this storm and communicate our strategy for making up the classes in future weeks. We will consider some Saturday hours and the evening of the Monday after Easter, giving students travel time on Monday morning.

Off-Campus Housing Preference:
Students who prefer to leave campus are free to do so, and Westmont will help them find a place through our organized church network that Student Life has developed. Students requesting a place to stay should call 805-565-6273 (OCRD, On-Call Resident Director). Students must check out with the residence hall staff before leaving campus. We need to keep an accurate count of all students so we know where they are each day. They can complete their class work for Wednesday wherever they stay.

Responses to questions:

1. Campus safety
Westmont suffered no damage during the January 9 storm—and very little damage during the heavy 1995 rain storms—because of four important factors.

  • Clear channel on campus: the well-maintained and protected channel on campus continues to be relatively free of debris and vegetation so water flows easily through it.
  • Topography: the small size of Westmont’s watershed (the basin that feeds the channel on campus) limits the amount of debris. It contains only 200-220 acres compared to 9,600 acres for the areas of Montecito hit by the debris flow.
  • Limited fire damage above Westmont: Unlike the mountains to the east, which are completely denuded, the area above campus burned only slightly and still features a lot of green vegetation that slows rainfall.
  • 24-hour Flood Watch: We will monitor our watercourses during the rainstorm so we can be ready if anyone should, as a further precaution, move to higher ground. In addition, our Situation Readiness & Response Team will remain on high alert.
    As a result, we remain confident that Westmont is safe during a rainstorm.

2. Addressing Evacuation Fatigue
Professors and student life staff are aware of the additional stress students face because of the evacuations, and they are being flexible and working with students individually as appropriate to help them complete work and manage the challenging situation. The provost’s office has worked closely with the Faculty Council and with professors, encouraging them to be flexible. Many faculty are also affected by the evacuations personally as are many of us who living near the college. This affects us all. We’re deeply grateful for the way professors have responded and adapted to the evacuations.

We’re also sensing from our students the fatigue of starting and halting their classes. Many of them have voiced their commitment to complete their classes and remain on campus. The disruption is a real challenge that not only affects our campus but the whole community living in Montecito and Santa Barbara. We plan to respond to rain days as many other schools in colder climates routinely respond to snow days; this is a manageable situation, although unfamiliar to most of us.

3. Access to Campus after Tuesday Noon
We don’t know how closely the officials will monitor the roads, but no one should assume that if they leave the campus they will be allowed to return. We want to encourage students to remain on campus and remain in the residence halls as it’s not recommended to drive on the roads during periods of heavy rain.

4. Spring Sing/Parents Weekend/Gaede Institute Conversation
Right now, the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday looks good. We have no plans to cancel Parents Weekend and Spring Sing. The Santa Barbara County Bowl falls well outside the evacuation zone, and they are equipped to handle the rain. The Spring Sing Committee is encouraging students to make safety and academics their top priorities and to see Spring Sing as an opportunity to have fun with friends, laugh, and enjoy a low-stress, community-building night.

Organizers for other scheduled on-campus events are making preparations to move the activity off site or to postpone it altogether. Those plans will be posted on our website once the decisions have been made.

5. Possible Road closures
As circumstances change, we will respond to them in real time. We will monitor all CHP advisory notices.

6. Library Hours
The library will remain open with limited hours. Check back for updates.