Spring snowstorm brings slush, but university officials strive to keep campus safe and clean

Snowy forecasts bring the anticipation of sleeping in, putting off homework and, of course, no class. Unfortunately for Butler University students, Monday’s 7.2-inch snowfall did not result in either a delay or snow day, which caused issues for some students.
Sophomore Lynn Zeheralis is on crutches after getting foot surgery over Spring Break. She had to skip a couple of her classes because she was not able to get around campus.
“The sidewalks weren’t shoveled that great,” Zeheralis said. “It was really difficult to get around.”
She ended up having a friend drive her from the Alpha Chi Omega house to Jordan Hall.
“I definitely think it would have helped if they had a delay so they could have had time to clean things up better,” Zeheralis said. “I managed though. It was a lot of last-minute emails at 7 a.m. to professors trying to rearrange things.”
The president’s office, the director of public safety and the provost receive input from the Butler University Police Department and campus operations to decide if campus sidewalks, streets and surrounding city streets are safe for transportation.
“The number one priority is the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Richard Michal, executive director of facilities, said in an email.
The group monitors the weather during the afternoon, evening and night before a storm is supposed to hit. To monitor the weather, multiple sources are used. Reports from the National Weather Service, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indianapolis Division of Homeland Security are all taken into account.
Another way to help Butler decide what to do is talking to other institutions around Indianapolis, such as the University of Indianapolis and Marian University.
Michal said if the weather does turn out to be bad like it was Monday morning, the grounds crew gets to work at 1 or 2 a.m. to start plowing internal streets and parking lots.
At 5 a.m., the crews shift their focus to campus sidewalks and building entrances by plowing, hand-shoveling and spreading salt and ice melt.
Michal said special attention is paid to residence and dining halls, especially facilities with disabled students.
Between 5 and 5:30 a.m., the grounds crew supervisor decides whether the facilities crew will be able to have the sidewalks safely cleared for 8 a.m. classes. If not, a notification of delay or cancellation will be sent out to campus via email by 5:30 a.m.
Ben Hunter, executive director of public safety, said there was no delay Monday or Tuesday because the snow was only wet and slushy, not icy, which is usually a cause of delay.
Hunter said the university is in the process of evaluating and revising the adverse weather policy.
For the last three major storm warnings, the university has sent out a message to campus in advance, stating the decision to close or delay will be made at 5:30  the next morning.
Hunter said along with being more aggressive about keeping campus informed, a checklist will be added.
The checklist will ensure all campus events and departments are taken into consideration when deciding to delay or not.
To stay updated on future storm warnings, follow @DawgAlert and @BUpoliceChief on Twitter.

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