Let it Snow

From parking tickets to snow days,

SDSU handles several winter issues

Parking problems, snow removal and the ever desirable snow days are on their way to Brookings. The first snow has fallen and it is here to stay. 

As students can see, parking lots have been filled with snow, making parking ambassadors’ jobs a little different.

“For the most part I instruct my attendants to be very lenient in this time of year because the snow does cover the lines,” parking services administrator Kim Engelmann said. “If they are visible then we do expect people to try to park as best as possible within the yellow lines but we do understand that sometimes you park and a blizzard comes in and it’s just impossible so they [parking ambassadors] do try to show a lot of leniency unless people start parking in the roads or the sidewalks, somewhere that there’s a safety issue involved.”

Parking Services currently has three parking ambassadors that do the ticketing on campus. They regulate parking on campus throughout the year, including over winter break.

“The only days we don’t are the days our office is closed like Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day, but during the actual holiday breaks that students have off, we’re still open because campus offices are open so we still enforce for the days that all of those offices are open,” Engelmann said.

In the event of a snow day, Parking Services would be closed along with the rest of the school. Michael Adelaine, vice president of security and information, said the process of calling off school has many factors.

“One, is the Governor going to close the interstate? Is the city going to advise no travel? So we’re looking at those things. The other thing we’re looking at is, are the temperatures, the snow and the wind such that human life could be in danger and there’s thresholds on those things,” Adelaine said.

According to Adelaine, the state climatologist is on campus and looking at all his data plus the national weather service, giving Adelaine feedback on what the weather is going to do. The climatologist also looks at the history of the weather in the area while making his recommendations.

According to Adelaine, around 4,000 students live on campus. This large population of students living on campus also affects the decision making process. Since there are several people on campus, closing the entire school can be difficult.

Faculty and staff are sorted into classification groups for when school closes. Some staff are essential on a snow day, including employees working on heat. Dining services and the Wellness Center also offer vital resources to students.

“We have a dialog with those folks [at dining services] and really understand that the problem isn’t that we wouldn’t keep it open, it’s how many of their staff can get here,” Adelanie said. “In most cases dining services would be available. It just depends on how much staff we can get in that essential staff classification.”

The decision to keep the Wellness Center open when class is canceled would depend on safety. The university may choose to keep the Wellness Center open to offer students some activity. Other times, the weather may be too dangerous to want students to go outside, Adelaine said.

While there are many students on campus, the commuting student is taken into consideration as well. Adelaine recommends students prepare for an open winter. An open winter tends to have less moisture but the temperatures are much colder.

“I think they [commuting students] need to be aware that if they’re traveling in a commuter situation, please have a blanket, a candle, the normal South Dakota winter driving kit with you because you just never know here,” Adelaine said.

When weather gets poor, SDSU students are currently notified via email through a program called Everbridge. Everbridge is SDSU’s emergency alert system. Adelaine said that he hopes to have an additional alert system, Alertus, implemented on campus to warn students of poor weather. 

“Alertus will allow us to send messages to all the TV monitors on campus plus automatically tie to the weather service and it will be something that students can put on their phones and it will automatically have an alert come up,” Adelaine said. “It’s not a text message, it’s an app that will let you see the message right away.”

While Everbridge is a regents system so all South Dakota regent institutions have it, Alertus would be solely at SDSU. Before Alertus could be used on campus, Adelaine said it has to be approved on more levels. 

“The reason that we’re interested in it is that we’re so large that we need to get that message out in a very timely fashion in all different shapes and sizes so we believe that, for us, it’s important to have that extra tool,” Adelaine said.