I have an 8281SS also ('07MY). The front vent is suppose to open to the rear, not the front for purposes of driving with the vent open. However, I am not surprised that your vent is postioned this way...reason being that the roof line in this area is pitched towards the front of the trailer. The roof has a peak just forward of the mid-point of the trailer, causing the forward roof vent to pitch towards the front. With the vent oriented to open on the front side (such as your's) there is less chance for rain to enter thru the opening since the roof line causes the open side of the vent to be on the low side of the pitch. My vent opens to the rear and because of the roof pitch causes a greater chance for falling rain to enter since the open side is on the high side of the pitch. Its almost like it was designed that way to purposely catch the rain.
Its because of this that I opted to mount Maxxair covers on all vents, especially the front. I am curious if newer 8281SS models are all built now such as your's to avoid the situation my model year has,... but doing so inherently makes a vent cover impractical
, as you have mentioned.
Maybe some other 8281SS model owners here on FRF can confirm whether FR made a design change to re-orientate the vent or if your's is a mistake.