Opinions & Editorials

Snowstorm Response Still Needs Improvement

BY: NATALIE HEINITZ

Wake up. Check phone. Jasper 911 text. No class. Yes.

This routine has been splendid the past couple of snow days and has given students a couple extra reasons to stay cooped up inside Netflix binging, napping, and putting classes on the backburner. This bliss however, only extends indoors and inside heated dorm rooms and comfortable beds.

The second you walk outside, the threat of slipping on stairs with perpetual layers of ice and getting beamed in the head with falling snow blocks is all too apparent. Will I fall again on my way to class today? How much distance should I put between myself and Draddy Gym when I walk back to East Hill? Does anyone else see these killer ice cycles?

Thankfully, Public Safety and Physical Plant has finally recognized the safety hazard that is the impending ice blocks that hang off Draddy Gymnasium. On Saturday, Feb. 15 East Hill and Horan residents received an email from Residence Life stating, “Public Safety has closed the walkway alongside Draddy Gymnasium between East Hill and Thomas Hall. There is falling snow/ice in that area.”

While I appreciate the recognition and execution of safety measures, it was a tad late in my mind. Just a day before this email, the gazebo behind Jasper and Chrysostom Hall collapsed because of heavy snow. Thankfully no one was hurt, but what if someone had been inside? Could there have been a preventative plan to move the heavy snow before the accident?

Moreover, the falling snow/ice mentioned in the email has loomed over East Hill and Horan residents well before the snowstorm last Thursday. Since our last snowstorm on Monday, Feb. 3, piercing ice cycles have hung from snow chunks that are gradually melting and slipping off the roof of Draddy.

I have spent over a week sharing concerned and uneasy glances with strangers, bonding as we look up at the inevitable tumbling snow and back down at each other as we steer farther from the roof-side of the path. I thought I was making a big deal out of nothing, especially since the only emails I was receiving from Public Safety were concerning salted and shoveled paths. Even then, I couldn’t decipher between salted and unsalted paths. Everything was equally icy (and scary) to me.

The buildup of impending ice and snow blocks has finally been removed from Draddy for the time being, thanks to the closure of the Draddy path, the eighth floor entrance to East Hill and the Horan bridge this past weekend. While walking around to Lockes was a bit of a hassle, I’m just happy that I don’t have to look towards the Draddy roof in anticipation of another light being knocked to the ground.

While Public Safety has improved with anticipatory emails, mainly concerning moving parked cars and shoveling walkways, it took them over a week to finally inform students of the threat of falling snow and ice. Of course we as students have been aware of the killer ice cycles, but it would have been nice to know that Public Safety and Physical Plant were concerned about it before this weekend, too.

With each weather incident, Public Safety and administration seems to learn something new, whether it’s informing students with emails before a storm, making preparations to shovel earlier, etc. After this snowstorm, I hope administration and Public Safety realizes the necessity of preventative arrangements not just for shoveling and clearing paths, but for possible tragedies and accidents. It’d be a real shame if someone was hurt by falling snow or ice before Public Safety decided to recognize a danger that was so seemingly obvious.