Our View: Snow falls. Students do, too.

DKS Editors

Falling down is a part of life. From our earliest attempts at learning to walk to the occasional clumsiness that comes from balancing on two limbs instead of four, falling can be an embarrassing, sometimes painful, experience that most people learn to expect.

Still, certain weather conditions precipitate more falls than others. The snow and ice of winter can make even short walks across campus or town ripe for all types of falls.

There is the pitch forward on the sheet of ice that forms in front of the ROTC building or Cartwright Hall, leaving knees bruised, hands scraped and confidence shaken. There is the near fall, that reflex-testing scramble for balance as one foot slips out to one side and the weight of a bag or backpack shifts our center of balance higher than normal. And, of course, the ever-popular fall backward, which contorts the limbs, jars the spine and bruises the tailbone.

These falls and near misses are a common sight in any region that has snowy winters.

Yet given the Kent State Board of Trustees approved an increase in student parking permit rates in April 2008 to meet the rising costs of, among other things, snow removal, it’s not unreasonable for students to wonder where that service is.

Yes, there is the spectre of a road-salt shortage hanging over the nation and stretching budgets.

Yes, there are environmental concerns about using crystallized salt, low-temperature salt solutions and even sand, concerns that have prompted some cities to forgo using the ice-melting and traction-providing materials.

Yes, the university is facing budget cuts, and clearing and salting sidewalks may not rank very high on a list of priorities.

And yes, even salt and sand are not always enough to make sidewalks and roadways safer, given the arctic cold Northeast Ohio has experienced for the last several weeks.

Yet slips and falls are the most common reason for a trip to an emergency room, and 70 percent of slips and falls occur on level ground.

Those areas around campus that tend to collect the most ice, such as the stairs that cross from one side of Hilltop Drive to the other, could be better kept. Although it’s impossible to watch everything closely for the slightest patch of ice, we’re sure slightly better care could be taken. The last thing the university is looking for is a lawsuit from a student or visitor who slips and suffers an injury.

At the beginning of January, the city of Kent reviewed its snow removal and clearing process. Late last year, a small committee of residents was appointed by the city to review sidewalk snow removal, including Undergraduate Student Government Senator Andrew Fontanarosa.

With Fontanarosa’s inclusion on that committee, the students of Kent State have at least one voice in the discussion of snow removal and safety on city sidewalks. But where is our voice in the discussion of snow and ice safety on the roads and sidewalks where so many of us spend so much of our time every day?

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