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Delays, closings and snow removal: surviving the winter as a campus

Kelsey Bundra

Editor-In-Chief

Jan. 22 marked the start of Winter Storm Jonas which left Lancaster County with around 20 inches of snow. Millersville University responded to the storm with a cancellation and a delay.

Class was cancelled that following Monday; then there was a delay until 12 p.m. on Tuesday.

The process of declaring a delay or cancellation has many steps. Information about delays and cancellations are announced on the Millersville homepage, through MU Alert and sometimes on the Millersville University Facebook page. Delays and cancellations are also announced on television stations WHTM-TV ABC-27, WHP CBS-21, Fox-43 and WGAL-TV Channel 8 and on the radio station, WITF-FM.

If a closing is decided on, classes are cancelled (including the ones in the Ware Center in Lancaster City) and university offices are also closed.

The president has legal authority to cancel or postpone classes. The process starts early in the morning before the snow is predicted to fall. This typically starts at 4 a.m. At this point, PennDOT is contacted. People start checking the road conditions and the sidewalks. There is about five miles of sidewalk on campus.

“How quickly we can get the sidewalks safe?” President Anderson said he asks the team devoted to deciding on cancellations.  Anderson consults Roger Bruszewski, Vice President For Finance & Administration/CFO. He calls Bruszewski at 5 a.m. for a summary report. Then, Bruszewski meets with facilities director.

They consider pedestrian and vehicular safety for student, faculty and staff.

Another aspect of the storm that is considered is if students are in class at the time of the snow. If students are supposed to be in class, the maintenance crew works on the sidewalks leading to the residence halls, dining halls and academic buildings. If students won’t be in class, the crew will clear the paths to the administrative buildings first. Eric Horst, the Director of the Weather Info Center, is contacted at this time.

A decision to delay class or cancel class is made at 6 a.m. after a call to the director of facilities has been made. This decision is made two hours before the first possible class begins. Classes are usually canceled by noon. Sometimes MUPD is consulted. The provost is called and then the president again. The president has the final say on delays and cancellations. Then, the PR department is notified of the decision. The PR department then goes on to alert radio stations and adds the information to the Millersville homepage.

When it comes down to the actual snow clearing process, the maintenance crew works on the roads first. Sometimes the crew has to clear the sidewalks twice because people push the snow from the street into the sidewalks.

This historical snowfall accounted for over twenty inches of snow. As a result, Millersville University was closed Monday and Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Christine Illes.
This historical snowfall accounted for over twenty inches of snow. As a result, Millersville University was closed Monday and Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Christine Illes.

The same process was implemented during Winter Storm Jonas. Bruszewski said that steps were taken to ensure people’s safety. On the Friday that the snow started falling, they cancelled activities like the basketball game and events at the Ware Center.

“We made decision to delay to noon with the hope that we can get things done,” Bruszewski said.

Early Monday morning, the maintenance crew had every intension of moving forward with the noon delay. This was until some of the equipment broke. Then the cancellation was announced.

Class was cancelled on Monday because the parking lots were not cleared enough. Millersville contracted out a few pieces of equipment to finish up the job. On Tuesday, classes started at noon.

Parking was affected by Winter Storm Jonas. Students who live in residence halls and have a car on campus were asked to move their vehicles out of the parking lots and into the commuter parking garages. MUPD was more lenient on ticketing procedures immediately after the storm.

They did not ticket people the week after the storm, unless someone parked in a handicap spot, or blocked a lane or sidewalk.

Police Chief Anders advises that people take more time to travel. He also suggested to follow the Millersville website and MU alerts. “Students I have talked to seem to be exercising caution, which is great,” Anders said.

Bruszewski wants to emphasize that the people who make the decisions on delays and closings are not available through Millersville’s social media. If a student encounters an area of campus that needs snow removal attention, they should contact the Facilities Management Department at 717-871-7875.

If a student is injured by falling on ice, they should contact 911 if it is a serious injury. They should seek medical attention. If the injury is not as serious, but they would still like to report it, the student is asked to call MUPD at 717-871-4357 or the SMC Info Desk at 717-872-3510.

“We are not going to make a decision two days ahead of time because someone else is closed,” Bruszewski said.