Editorial Undervalues Butler Groundskeepers


In the Jan. 22 edition of The Collegian, the staff editorial indicates that the university needs to do a better job of clearing the snow following major winter weather events, and that the effort following the polar vortex beginning on Sunday, Jan. 5, was inadequate.

The editorial flatly states that “anyone who was on campus when the vortex came through reported little plowing and shoveling of the roads and sidewalks actually taking place.” I’d like to offer a very different first-hand account.

I walked a mile and a half to campus early on the morning of Jan. 6, just a few hours after nearly a foot of snow was dumped on Indianapolis.

Major roads in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, such as Illinois, Capitol, and Boulevard, had several inches of snow still on them, a situation that wouldn’t change for the next several days.

Side streets were snowed-in and not passable. During my walk to campus I encountered few motor vehicles on the road at all, as Mayor Ballard (of Indianapolis) had requested that only emergency vehicles be on the streets in the days following the severe weather event.

When I arrived on campus, however, what I found was that nearly every sidewalk was cleared and that most of the roads through campus had been plowed, making it possible to drive—that is, if you could have gotten to campus through the city streets covered with snow.

Campus roads and sidewalks were clear despite the fact that the university was closed on Monday, Jan. 6 (and Tuesday, Jan. 7, and opening was delayed on Wednesday, Jan. 8).

To state that the “groundskeeping staff cannot keep up with the weather” is unfair to the people who arrive early and work in difficult conditions to ensure that the campus is accessible to those who study and work here. That they made certain that it was clear when the university was closed for two days speaks to their dedication.

There will always be piles of snow in parking lots when lots are cleared, just as there will always be slippery patches of sidewalk regardless of the snow clearing effort.

However, the condition of roads and sidewalks on Butler’s campus this winter (and over the past dozen years, in my experience) has always been superior to that found elsewhere around this city.

Under ideal conditions, the campus grounds crew does not receive enough credit for keeping the campus clean and attractive. The challenges that the weather has posed over the last couple of weeks, and the way they have responded, has given a reason to thank the grounds crew rather than criticize them.

Travis J. Ryan

Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences





At our Jan. 15 Staff Assembly general meeting, we recognized the outstanding efforts of our snow removal team.

Seventy-one grounds and building services staff worked nearly 900 man-hours during the snow and extreme cold between Jan. 5 and Jan. 10.

Since early December, this team has worked well over 2,000 total man-hours to remove snow and do everything within its means to keep campus safe.  Unfortunately, the extreme cold has complicated the process.

The least Staff Assembly could do was thank each one of these staff members for their hard work and dedication.  It’s these individuals that make Butler a great place to work and be.  Students, faculty, staff and visitors owe them a great deal of gratitude for their work.

I was very disappointed to read your editorial, “Butler’s reaction to winter weather must improve” in the Jan. 22 Collegian.

Before you publish pieces like this, I challenge you to make sure all your facts are accurate and you have a true understanding of the work being done, especially by our grounds and building services staff.

These individuals made sacrifices during extreme conditions to ensure our great university was clear, maintained, and safe.

I request that you consider a thank-you piece to recognize them.  It’s the least you can do.

Thank you.

Josh Downing

Chair, Staff Assembly