Bone-chilling temperatures reach below zero; students frustrated with KSU’s decision to keep classes in session
Students faced temperatures in the single digits with wind chills making it feel in the negative teens yesterday. Temperatures today will be between 9 and 12 degrees with winds at 15 mph, according to www.weather.com.
Elizabeth Myers | Daily Kent State
Credit: Ron Soltys
Bitterly cold temperatures made for a quiet cross-campus commute yesterday. But once defrosted, students were vocal.
According to the National Weather Service, yesterday’s high temperature in Kent was 6 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chills between 11 below zero and 16 degrees below zero.
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David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, who helps President Lester Lefton make school closing decisions, said negative temperatures typically do not close the university if properly dressed students are safe walking to class.
The fact that there was not significant snowfall and the PARTA busses could maintain their routes weighed into the decision to keep Kent State open, he said.
Creamer said school closing decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
“If we can’t clear the walks, we almost always cancel,” he said, adding that it is hard to cancel without built-in snow days.
Students protest decision
Sophomore English major Will Flannigan created a Facebook group Sunday night to oppose the decision. By last night, more than 1,800 students had joined the group.
“We didn’t expect it to catch on as fast as it did,” he said. “We thought it was important for someone to take note of the college students who have to walk across campus.”
About 40 students gathered in Eastway Lower Lounge last night to protest. Flannigan said the cold weather made it dangerous for students to walk to class.
“It’s supposed to be even colder tomorrow,” he said. “If you’re going to cancel class, now would be the time.”
Students who were upset that classes weren’t canceled sent e-mails to President Lefton yesterday asking for an explanation.
Flannigan said those who sent e-mails received a response from Creamer explaining why classes weren’t canceled.
Patrick Mollard, freshman criminal justice major, said he was on his way to one of his classes when he decided to turn around. And Max Upton, sophomore exploratory major, said he refuses to go to class today.
“I have a paper due, but I’m just going to e-mail it to the professor,” he said.
As the protest grew to a close, students began chanting, “Frozen feet, frozen nose. School has to close.” Other chants included: “What do we want? School to close! When do we want it? Tomorrow!”
Organizers asked students to sign a petition declaring that they wouldn’t go to class today.
“If they care about their students, there should be a response,” Mollard said.
A dangerous cold
“It takes a good 20 minutes to walk across campus, so I think they should have paid more attention to student health,” said Jeff Bertleff, senior computer design and animation major, yesterday afternoon.
Kathy Bulgrin, an emergency room physician at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, said even brief exposure to the negative temperatures can be dangerous.
Bulgrin said the two most common conditions associated with the cold weather are frostbite and hypothermia.
“In as little as 10 to 15 minutes, you will begin to develop frostbite if you don’t cover your hands,” she said, adding that the nose, ears and feet are also at risk.
“As the body starts to get cold, it wants to be warm towards the middle, so the blood tends to go there — away from your extremities,” Bulgrin explained.
Initial symptoms of frostbite include redness, tingling and pain, Bulgrin said.
“As it (frostbite) settles in deeper, it becomes numb,” she said. “As the extremities warm up again, they become more painful.”
To prevent these conditions, Bulgrin said bundling up is necessary, especially the head, hands and feet because they are the most susceptible to frostbite. She also recommended putting extra clothes, gloves and hats in the car in case of an emergency.
Bulgrin said, so far, she has seen only a few weather-related cases, such as frostbite.
“We may well see more over the next few days if the weather continues,” she said.