By Paul VanHevel
As the semester progresses and students endure the remaining winter months it’s likely the weather will not warrant university closure.
“University officials begin monitoring weather conditions early in the event when a significant snowfall is predicted. Our grounds crews are out (often in the middle of the night) gauging the snowfall and determining whether they will be able to keep campus roads, parking lots and sidewalks cleared,” said Cheryl Roland, executive director of University Relations. “We’re also in touch with area public safety officials and the State Police to assess the safety of road conditions,”
This is an incredible feat considering the sheer amount of snow that Western Michigan Universities Landscape Services is responsible for removing.
“The crews must plow, shovel, scrape and de-ice more than 23 miles of roads, 100 acres of parking, 39 miles of walks, 200,000 square feet of steps and ramps and hundreds of doorways,” according to WMU News.
Extensive resources for snow removal are readily available at Western Michigan University. Officials rarely have to breach the stipulations and red tape set in place for campus closures.
However, on numerous occasions WMU has remained operational even when severe weather has hindered the university. How does severe weather truly influence university closures?
On Friday, Jan. 13 surrounding institutions such as Kalamazoo Valley College were not operational. Many have wondered why WMU was not declared closed?
“I feel like the University doesn’t always consider that a majority of their students commute and that should be a bigger factor in deciding school closings than whether or not the sidewalks get cleared between Miller and Rood,” said 21-year-old senior Erin Lenczycki. “Western is centered on a hill and that fact alone makes it exceedingly difficult to make it to classes on time. “
Safety for all students and staff particularly those who commute to and from campus should take precedence over the pride that accompanies keeping an institution open.
What horrific event must occur before the university relaxes their stance on campus closures? Will WMU’s criteria for cancelations only be amended if a student is hospitalized while commuting in inclement weather? Who shoulders that burden?
Until such a tragedy occurs the lack of timeliness remains the most inconvenient factor associated with severe weather.
“Add a foot of snow and it makes getting to class on time at 9 a.m. a guessing game, even if I leave half an hour early,” said Lencyzcki.