Falling Down on the Job
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Students, faculty and staff slipped and slid across a layer of ice on campus Saturday. The assumption, perhaps, was that someone would be along soon to clear the sidewalks and parking areas. But no one came along until two full days later – right before classes were going to be in session on Monday morning.
University Facilities, in the Stormont Maintenance Center, was closed for the weekend. When we called Stormont, a recorded message asked students to call Police and Safety for emergencies. The walkways were an emergency waiting to happen, so we made another phone call to Police and Safety. An officer told us that clearing sidewalks is not a part of their job. Whose job is it, then? Who exactly is supposed to be making sure that students are safe and protected when walking conditions are hazardous?
Last February, we experienced the same kind of weather we are facing now. We had a few smatterings of snow and then two massive snowstorms back-to-back. At a time when every other school in the county was closing their doors, our students were wondering why we were still open.
But our university crews were on the job. They ventured out in the dangerous weather and started clearing the sidewalks long before anyone set foot onto campus. And we thanked them for that.
This year, it was a different story.
Who is in charge of clearing snow and ice? Just because departments are closed down doesn’t mean life stops on campus. Close to a thousand students live on-campus and must leave their dorms to do something as simple as eat lunch. For this reason, at the least, the university should be aware of the conditions on campus and should be certain that the walkways and buildings are safe environments.
Around 9 a.m. Monday., a BuzzIn announcement was sent out by ESU Emergency Management to let everyone know that the conditions on campus were “slick.” Yes, conditions were obviously slick – they had been since the storm on Friday night – but what were they doing about it to keep us safe?
Packs of students were seen tiptoeing to class in order not to fall on their faces, which some of them did, anyway. Sending out a notice of this kind is insulting to the student body. Students were already on campus by the time the cleanup began, and the effort, frankly, was feeble. There weren’t enough paths cleared between buildings and some crosswalks and handicapped ramps were left untouched.
As students, we expect walkways to be safe. Allowing campus to become an ice rink is unacceptable.