University advises students to ‘gear’ up for winter

Jackie Valley

Thanksgiving break begins tomorrow, winter break begins in less than five weeks, but frigid and snow-filled winter weather could begin at any moment.

To minimize confusion, David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, said the university released winter weather information about policies and procedures this year to prepare students in advance.

“Last winter was a little tough, and we had a lot of inquiries from students and parents,” he said. “We felt maybe that would be helpful.”

Creamer said weather-related decisions are made based on the university’s ability to clear a reasonable amount of snow and ice from campus walkways to make it safe for students walking to class. He said two-thirds of students live on or within a few miles of campus.

“Our decision is made about the local Kent area because that’s where our vast majority of students are coming from,” he said.

Even so, Creamer said unlike primary and secondary schools, Kent State does not have snow days built into its academic calendar.

“There’s an assumption we will be able to operate for the full remaining calendar,” he said, adding that cancellations and closures put pressure on classes to finish the course content.

Creamer said typically there is between one and three class cancellations per year, but campus closures are less common.

Creamer makes the decision to cancel classes or close the university with President Lester Lefton’s approval. Decisions are generally made before 6 a.m. for morning and all-day cancellations, by 10 a.m. for afternoon classes and 3 p.m. for evening classes.

Kent State canceled afternoon classes one day followed by a campus closure the next day during a mid-February snow storm last semester.

“Our main goal is to keep the campus open,” he said. “Only when we find we can’t do that is when we close it.”

Even so, Creamer said essential student services — heat, police, dining and health — will still operate during campus closures.

“We don’t close things down critical to the safety of our students,” he said.

Creamer said the administration received between 40 and 50 e-mails last winter when wind chill temperatures dipped below zero, but classes remained in session.

He said temperature determinations are made individually based on other factors, including the predicted temperatures throughout the day.

“It is always harder on the wind chill factor,” he said. “It’s easier to look out and say the walks are too icy.”

Creamer suggested allowing enough time to get to classes and dressing warm — hats, gloves and scarves.

“If you dress properly, you’re generally safe for the walks on campus,” he said.

Tam Pham, senior integrated life science major, said her winter weather philosophy is to wear “many, many layers.”

“I think I learned my first winter here that you need to wear layers, especially in the wind tunnel near the library,” she said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].