Filed under Hornet Life

Snow day and a half create buzz

  • A solitary student makes their way through campus under steady snowfall at noon on Tuesday Feb. 4, just after the announcement that classes would be canceled for the rest of the day. Snow continued to fall late into the evening, leaving almost 8 inches and causing the school to close again Wednesday, Feb. 5. (Will Austin)
  • Nizomiddin Kuchkarov, senior exchange student, takes aim at Yulia Emokhonova, senior exchange student, with a fistful of snow. Spontaneous snowball fights broke out throughout the day, Tuesday Feb. 4. (Will Austin)
  • The snowstorm makes it a feat for students and faculty to travel on foot and by vehicle Tuesday Feb. 4 throughout the day. Maintenance and custodial services worked through the day clearing snow only for the walkways to be covered again within the hour. (Jennifer Pendarvis)
  • Left to right: Katie Hatesohl, sophomore nursing major, Evangeline Carney, sophomore psychology major, and Dani De Vore, junior social science education major, hit each other with snowballs during their free afternoon, Tuesday Feb. 4 outside Morse Hall. (Will Austin)
  • Larry Gutierrez, custodial specialist, shovels through the mass of snow that blanketed campus at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning in front of Breukelman Science Hall. Campus custodial services worked throughout the day to clear the sidewalks and pathways of ice and snow. (Jon Coffey)

Snow fell steadily Tuesday morning and covered the remaining ice from last Friday’s freezing rain. As morning classes began, campus received a fresh blanket of snow that wasn’t too deep yet. Many students questioned their own safety as they trudged in such conditions to later find that their classes after 12:30 p.m. had been canceled. The emergency team had a tough decision to make.

“You’d be amazed at the little things you have to take into consideration,” said President Michael Shonrock. “You want to think about when the next paper comes out, when the next sporting event will be…Campus never really shuts down.”

Although other universities and colleges, including Flint Hills Technical School, started cancellations as soon as 8 p.m. Monday night, Emporia State remained open half of the day in hopes the weather would not put a damper on classes.

“Our procedure is to make the call by 6 a.m. The day of, but depending on the situation, we may take some time to wait it out and see what the weather might end up doing,” said Carrie Boettcher, emergency manager.

The first large winter storm of the year was predicted early this week, and as students became more aware they continued to hope for classes to be canceled.

“I always encourage students and personnel to pay close attention to our emergency alert system to get information about closings and weather alerts,” Boettcher said.

The snow didn’t let up throughout the day, either. By the end of the day, the ground was coated with 7.9 inches of snow, according to weather.com. Students had no problem sharing their opinion on social media, particularly on Twitter.

“To the students’ credit, I do appreciate the communication because that is important,” Shonrock said. “I hope that because I check periodically, it becomes another way to communicate with me and the university.”

Many students commented on how dangerous it was to walk to campus and their disagreement with how campus remained open even though the weather forecast stated the snow would not let up. One student even said that if enough people tweeted about canceling class, Shonrock would close campus.

“Tweeting at me won’t always change my mind, but I do look at the information,” Shonrock said.

The snow continued to fall throughout the day Tuesday, but word about a full snow day didn’t arrive until 5:07 p.m., when students received yet another ESU Alert saying that campus would be closed Wednesday, Feb. 5.

“The university plans for events on an ongoing basis,” Boettcher said. “We started planning for this week’s storm last week, and continue to make decisions as the weather changes.”

Boettcher strongly encourages students to attend the many precautionary lectures that take place on campus, so each student can be more prepared for the weather conditions Kansas typically throws at its residents.

“The more we can do to learn and prepare as individuals, the more we can do for a particular weather situation,” Boettcher said.

With a windchill advisory put into effect at 3 p.m. yesterday, ESU personnel, including Shonrock, worked to make sure the pathways and roads would be clear for students and employees to go back to normal this morning.

“We’ve been up on campus all day (Wednesday) trying to get the roads cleared,” Shonrock said. “Even though campus is ‘closed’ we are never really closed. Don’t forget about the folks who get up early to help get prepared for the next day. They are breathing the cold air and wind to help insure that we can make it to campus safely.”

Although Shonrock kept student and employee safety at the top of the list of priorities, people still got hurt Tuesday.

Jason Bosch, senior director of the Center for Student Involvement, took a fall outside his apartment early Monday morning.

“I was getting out of my car in the parking lot next to my apartment,” Bosch said. “As I turned to close the door, I slipped and fell on my back, and hit my head on the icy pavement.”

Bosch felt fine until he arrived at work at 8 a.m. later that morning.

“My face and arms started tingling, I had a shortness of breath, I felt dizzy and I was having trouble concentrating,” said Bosch.

After a trip to the emergency room, Bosch was diagnosed with a contusion, and is recovering. Accidents have racked up over the last few days with 11 accidents reported by Police and Safety, two of which landed people in the emergency room.

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