When the polar vortex swept across the nation earlier this month, heavy snow and below freezing temperatures resulted in snow-blown and icy roads, dangerous travel conditions and temporarily unfixable potholes.
The situation created dissatisfaction and disappointment from motorists and pedestrians throughout Indiana.
Things were no different at Butler University, despite many students being gone for winter break when the vortex passed through.
Part of the reason for this may be because parking lot, road and sidewalk conditions were still treacherous by the time students had gotten back and the vortex had left the area.
And this was before more snow hit the area last Saturday and early yesterday.
Butler needs to be aware of the needs and safety of its students, faculty and staff when winter weather strikes.
Anyone who was on campus when the vortex came through reported little plowing and shoveling of the roads and sidewalks actually taking place.
Jerry Carlson, director of maintenance services, said a groundskeeping staff of 11 handles the clearing and salting of campus roads and sidewalks.
Carlson added that the Indianapolis Department of Public Works takes care of roads around but off campus.
It would appear the small groundskeeping staff cannot keep up with the weather, and Butler needs to realize the danger it is putting its students in by not taking measures to ensure snow and ice are cleared in a timely manner.
Carlson said the grounds staff has used more salt and ice melt so far this winter than it did all last winter. But even one serious injury is too many, and Butler should recognize this and provide the grounds crew with more materials.
The school is putting itself in a vulnerable position by not appropriately preparing to handle poor walkway and road conditions.
Not all Butler community members were able to leave campus for winter break, and it’s possible some had other commitments off campus during this time.
If roads on campus are close to impassable days after a major storm ends and things are returning to normal elsewhere in the city, who knows how that could affect students and staff who need to get around or off campus.
Plowing of parking lots also seemed random and sometimes incomplete. The lot in front of Apartment Village had several inches of snow on it days after the storm had finished. Snowbanks still exist in Residential College lot spaces.
Additionally, potholes have become a major issue across campus. While it is not possible to effectively fix them during the cold months, placing cones over them or warning signs near them would be beneficial.
A community member’s car could easily be damaged by squarely hitting one of these holes or the cones, or a car could have to swerve to avoid a hole, putting other motorists in danger.
It would not be appropriate to run the Butler groundskeeping team ragged—or put members in danger—to make sure everything is done. But it is important that Butler take notice of lingering issues, staff the groundskeeping team appropriately and ensure the safety of community members.
It does not seem unfair to ask they be safe to move along days after a storm ends.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Collegian previously incorrectly reported of an individual who slipped on a Butler sidewalk and suffered a concussion. The individual was tripped up by an uneven sidewalk while rollerblading. The Collegian regrets this error.