Following the academic year’s first snow day, staff reporter Tessa Fackrell explores university snow day protocols. Photo by Grace Hensley.
TESSA FACKRELL | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter weather is officially upon Butler University, with the first snow day announcement of the year released on Jan. 25. The announcement came as an email to students, faculty and staff. The email cited the prediction of heavy snowfall and potential hazardous roads as the reason for canceling.
The email came from John Conley, BUPD chief of public safety, who serves on a weather advisory team to decide when campus operations should be suspended. Also on the weather advisory team is Mark Apple, the director of strategic communications.
Apple said they take commuter students, faculty who have to travel, faculty who have kids and their kids’ school cancellations, as well as just general safety into account when deliberating whether they should suspend campus operations.
“First and foremost, we want to make sure that all of our people are going to be safe, whether they have to travel to campus or just travel around campus,” Apple said.
The advisory team has access to special weather monitoring apps that they use to inform their decisions regarding snow-day cancellations. The team has a Zoom meeting at 5 a.m. on the day where there is potential for hazardous weather to give the final decision on campus operations.
“We want to give our faculty and staff as much notice as possible so that they can make arrangements for their kids and so that they can make arrangements for travel,” Apple said.
Additionally, the facilities and operations team have to divert all of their attention to clearing the snow when there is a storm. John Lacheta, manager of facilities and operations, said that the normal work of the facilities teams is derailed when a weather event occurs and that all attention is directed to ensuring campus safety.
“The varying temperatures often cause issues as it could rain and then all of a sudden snow, not allowing us to be proactive with salting,” Lacheta said in an email to The Butler Collegian. “The rate of snowfall is also an unknown, and the faster the rate of snowfall, the more difficult it is.”
Some students, such as Gianna Modica, a sophomore journalism and sports media double major, were grateful that students had a snow day, even if there was not as much snow as what was predicted. Modica also believes that the snow day announcement was presented in a helpful way.
“I think it was good that they sent out a previous email the night before letting us know they’re thinking about it,” Modica said. “The time that they were going to let us know, it was a little bit inconvenient being in the morning, but I understand the way they did that.”
Students across campus found ways to enjoy the day off, including sports media major Grace Worcester, the social media intern for Butler Blue IV, who posted content of Blue sledding at the Sellick Bowl.
“We were really hoping that there was going to be a snow day,” Worcester said. “I feel like people on campus were kind of talking about the possibility of there being one, so we got a sled just to prep for it. Blue loves going sledding, he loves playing in the snow; he was running around for so long out there that we eventually had to drag him inside because we were freezing.”
The snow day protocol is — first and foremost — about safety, Apple said. When a weather event is predicted to occur, the weather advisory council takes campus safety into consideration, ensuring that whatever decision they make regarding campus operation, students and staff well-being is priority number one.