Upon hearing of the coming ice storm last week, Butler University employees worked to prepare the campus for whatever the winter storm might bring and to keep students informed of preparations.
Last Monday afternoon, a team of faculty from student affairs, information resources, food services, a representative from the office of the provost and the director of facilities management met to form a response plan for the approaching winter storm.
“Our biggest concern was the potential loss of power, so the team developed a plan for the worst-case scenario,” Assistant Chief of Police Andrew Ryan said.
It was decided that they would rent four generators to maintain power in Atherton Union, Jordan Hall and Residential College.
Because the Greek houses and Sunset Avenue are on a different power grid than the rest of campus, the plan was to potentially house students in Jordan Hall if they lost power.
After keeping close tabs on weather reports and tracking how schools in Illinois were reacting to the weather, it was decided around 4 p.m. Monday that Tuesday classes would be canceled.
Typically, the decision to cancel classes is left to the president’s office. However, because President Bobby Fong was out of town, the decision was left to the office of the provost.
To notify students of the closing, a notification was posted on the schools website, and the instant alert system also sent out e-mails and text messages to students.
University Relations handles the content of Butler’s emergency e-mails.
While some students received their emails later than others, overall the reception was positive.
“Butler sent me texts, blew up my voicemail and sent me e-mails,” freshman Laura Shull said. “I enjoyed having the instant alert because it cut down on rumors about school being closed and also helped me plan accordingly.”
After ice continued to fall on Tuesday, public safety was a concern because of trees falling and the potential loss of power, especially since there were power outages throughout Marion County.
Facilities management immediately started working around campus to clear the ice as best they could. However, they encountered problems with the chemicals used to melt the ice, which initially slowed them down.
Classes were again canceled on Wednesday, and many students noticed that much of campus had turned into the equivalent of an ice skating rink.
On Thursday, classes resumed and students were warned to “wear appropriate shoes and drive slowly” on their way to class.
“I wanted to go to class, but at the same time, I felt that it was unsafe,” Shull said. “I understand that you can’t just shovel ice, but I feel that Butler could have provided better clearing of the sidewalks.”
“We were mindful of the conditions, but it was not so dangerous that people could not get to campus,” Ryan said.
Even after the snow and ice stopped falling, facilities management continued to work around campus to clear all sidewalks.
While much of campus was still covered in ice, Ryan said he had heard rumors of injuries caused from falling on the ice, but no report come directly from public safety officials.
Shull said that her management science class was canceled on Friday afternoon because her professor fell on ice and had to go see a doctor.
“It kind of freaked me out that people were getting hurt,” Shull said. “It could potentially take a big toll on your body.”
The possibility of rising temperatures later this week should melt the ice and students and faculty will no longer have to worry about tip-toeing their way through campus.