Snowfall causes class cancellation

Nicole Stempak

Busy day clearing campus for ground crews

A Kent State grounds crew works to remove snow from the sidewalks and parking lot in front of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center early yesterday morning. DANIEL DOHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Predicted worsening weather conditions resulted in the cancellation of afternoon classes yesterday.

“Our concern (yesterday) was the expectation that the snow was going to continue and that we were going to face the challenges of students who were moving about campus and trying to keep the walkways clear and safe,” David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, said.

Creamer said there are several factors in deciding whether classes are canceled: the condition of the sidewalks, parking lots and roadways both on and near the campus. Unlike public schools, Kent State’s academic calendars do not have built-in snow days, he said.

“It’s not just one variable that we consider,” he said. “We try to aggregate those and then use experience and judgment to decide what to do.”

Creamer said the difficulty in anticipating weather conditions lies in the fact that “there’s much more art to it sometimes than science.”

“On any two given days, we could have certain facts that might be similar such as the amount of snow, the temperatures and other things but one day we may remain open and on another day we may close,” he said.

The opinions of many people with various expertise are also considered, including John Peach, director of public safety; Thomas Euclide, executive director of faculty planning and operation; Larry Emling, manager of parking services; and Heather White, manager of campus environment and operations.

In Creamer’s 10 years at Kent State, the campus only closed once, last Valentine’s Day. He estimates classes have been canceled a dozen times.

“We have to be able to keep the campus open in most circumstances; it takes a very extreme storm before we typically close the campus and close offices,” he said.

Ultimately, White’s staff is responsible for all the snow removal and plowing of sidewalks, roads, handicap ramps and steps on campus.

“We have 20,000 plus students, 850 acres, 22 miles of sidewalk and seven miles of roads,” she said. “We have a staff of 30 that are working, and I think we match up really well with those numbers.”

Yesterday morning, all 30 equipment operators began at 4 a.m. in an attempt “to get a head start on what we knew was coming,” she said.

Still, White said complaints aren’t unusual.

Ella Tachovsky, freshman fashion design major, said she thinks the grounds crew should be doing more to keep the sidewalks clear.

“There’s a girl in my class who broke her ankle while waiting for the bus stop because she slipped on the ice,” she said.

However, William Smith, junior French translator major, said the sidewalks were “pretty clear” when he walked to work yesterday morning.

“Bottom line: We’re working as hard as we can to provide a safe campus for everybody,” White said.

Contact general assignment reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].