Campus battles frigid winter weather

With the winter in full swing for the new spring semester, campus takes extra precautions to ensure the safety of students and making it accessible.

Extreme chill factors, winds, large snowfall and bad road conditions all are factors determining snow removal and whether or not classes are in session. According to the South Dakota Board of Regents, in the presence of these conditions, Pres. David Chicoine has the authority of canceling classes. When closing campus, Chicoine would need the discretion of the SDBOR Executive Director, Jack Warner. 

When winter weather reaches extremes, workers with facilities and services plow snow to try and clear walkways for students. Facilities and services reserves funds within their budget for snow removal. 

“We usually budget about $100,000 for snow removal every year,” said Jennifer Kindt Financial Analyst for facilities and services. “Depending on the weather of course, it can really vary.”

In the 2012-2013 school year, $101,809 was spent on snow removal and de-icing campus. The figure lands in the middle compared to the 2010-2011 year, which used $146,400, and in 2011-2012 $85,094 was spent on keeping campus clear.

Along with facilities and services workers, students also pay close attention to the weather conditions. During the winter, residents on campus are advised to leave their windows closed when temperatures reach extreme lows. Cold temperatures can freeze water pipes causing them to burst.

“There’s two primary concerns related to water. One is heating and sometimes those pipes … can be negatively affected … occasionally students will leave their windows open and pipes break,” said Director of University Housing and Residential Life Jeff Hale. “Those who are not [abiding by the rule] aren’t trying to cause a problem … It’s harder, we don’t have individual room thermostats,” 

Residential life workers inspect the buildings for signs of weather-related incidents.

“We look to see what could cause further problems, like are there open windows … we look for leaks,” Hale said. “Our staff are really paying a lot of attention to situations that may contribute to a further maintenance problem.” 

Even if classes are cancelled, residential life is still open and operating. Residential life assigns its workers and hired students to remove snow from immediate entrances and fire escapes for students living on campus. Those removing the snow and ice have several pieces of equipment such as snowplows, snow blowers, brooms and shovels.

Workers also use ice melt and sand to prevent walkways from being slippery. On concrete that is less than one year old, ice melt cannot be used due to a chemical reaction ruining the concrete. 

All equipment and products used to keep the sidewalks clear are paid with funds from the facilities budget made by residential life. In the budget are built in overtime hours, ice melt and other supplies to ensure residential life can follow through with proper snow removal. The funds for the budget are paid by room and board.

“Our staff is trying to make sure students are able to move around campus … it’s a never-ending battle,” Hale said. “ We just ask students to be mindful of the weather conditions as well.”