Our view: Take responsibility for yourself

DKS Editors

Snow is a vicious cycle in Kent.

Sometime during November or December, the first snow falls. It continues sporadically through the end of the year, and, by the time students return for the spring semester, they are greeted by a blanket of snow.

And though the biting temperatures are annoying to say the least, the bigger problem seems to be the snow buildup on city streets.

Some cities require residents to shovel the snow on their sidewalks within a 24 or 48 hour time period after a heavy snowfall. If they fail to comply, they are either fined or charged for an independent contractor to come remove the snow.

Kent, however, leaves residents on their honor to shovel sidewalks on their property. In theory, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It saves city officials time they could spend doing other things, and it prevents people from being fined if there is an extraordinary circumstance preventing them from shoveling within a short time frame. And it’s nice to think people would take responsibility for their property and prevent fellow residents from getting hurt.

Kent City Council spent months debating whether the city should charge fines but ultimately decided against it. And maybe the months of conversation were effective — City Manager Dave Ruller noted last week in his blog, kent360.com, that from his observation, people are doing a better job shoveling their sidewalks than in the past.

Yet, anyone who has walked down College Avenue during the past two weeks can see his statement doesn’t exactly hold true for the street populated with student renters.

The Daily Kent Stater asked some students living on College Avenue how they felt about the state of the slippery sidewalks, and they all said that they have troubles walking because of the snow buildup that has recently turned to ice. Yet, none said they have shoveled their sidewalks. Some even said they believe it’s the city’s responsibility to clear the snow.

That’s not the case, however. Unless a landlord has specified that he or she will take responsibility for clearing the sidewalks, responsibility falls upon the student renters.

When you rent a property in the city, you become more than just a student — you’re now a city resident. And with that comes additional responsibilities that dorm dwellers don’t have, and one of the most important responsibilities is snow removal.

Consider the consequences: Someone is walking home from campus at night and can’t see the patches of ice and they slip and fall. Sometimes, these falls can cause serious injuries. Someone may even choose the alternative option of walking in the street to avoid the sidewalks and face a potential confrontation with a car.

The snow won’t clear up anytime soon. Even last week’s warm streak did not melt the snow that had piled up in previous weeks. And anyone who has spent a winter in northeast Ohio before knows that it will be April before we begin to see permanent patches of green.

So do your part. Split the responsibility with your roommates. And shoveling your snow doesn’t need to take a long time. It will save your fellow residents a lot of problems and maybe an injury or two. If you do happen to injure yourself on another’s slippery sidewalk, remember that you do have the legal right to sue.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.