School closes for icy weather

January 18, 2013

Ice takes over campus Tuesday, leading to difficult travels for students and the university’s closure on Wednesday. – Photo by Derek J. Amaya


Staff Reporter


Watch out! Don’t slip! Stay inside! — Those are some of the phrases heard when the weather turned quite frigid.

With this week’s temperatures being in the low 30s, schools have had to take immediate action due to the freezing weather conditions.


Randall Hermes, Tech chief of police, said when the area weather condition is so hazardous that it poses as an obstacle for faculty and students to safely make it to class, closing the university is advised.


“As a part of the team advising the President, I advised closing early on Tuesday and closing on Wednesday,” he said. “Based upon the weather we had experienced throughout the day Tuesday and the forecast, I believed that as an abundance of caution, closing would be in the student, staff and faculty’s best interest.”


Hermes said Ruston was actually experiencing the same weather on Tuesday that the Monroe area experienced on Monday, which explains their closure on Tuesday.


Although Hermes said class being in session Tuesday morning was completely reasonable, some students saw things a bit differently.


Daniel Hibbets, a junior supply chain management major, said he does not feel that it was safe for students and teachers to commute to class on Tuesday due to bridges and roads closed in neighboring towns.


“The emergency weather site didn’t update Tuesday morning until 7:45 a.m.; for a commuter like me that had an 8 a.m. class and a 35-minute drive, that is way too late,” he said. “If I am required to drive in abnormal weather conditions, then the school should be willing to buy cars for those who have wrecks trying.”


Katie Hutson, a junior family and consumer science education major, said she also thinks it would have been best if the university had closed on Tuesday.


“The ice storm had a lot of the bridges and on/off ramps to the interstate shut down early Tuesday,” she said.


“Tech is the only school I know of that did not shut down early Tuesday.”


There was not only ice covering the roads and bridges but also the steps to buildings and porches of the campus apartments.


Housing was prepared though, as they sent workers out to sprinkle salt on the steps and porches of most of the apartments so students would not fall.


“We appreciate the dedication and hard work exhibited during these inclement weather incidents by our university staff,” Hermes said. “All are equally concerned, committed and devoted to the safety and comfort of our students.”


Tuesday, students and faculty put on the layers and braved the cold to get things accomplished, but as Wednesday approached the conditions were just too extreme.


Hermes said the area received quite a bit of precipitation in the form of rain during the morning Tuesday, the trees were beginning to show the signs of ice accumulation and the temperature had not moved above the freezing mark.


“It appeared that we were going to experience a ‘mild’ ice storm, including the good possibility of ice on the roadways; this was not the case on either Monday or Tuesday,” he said.


Hutson said she thinks Tech was trying to wait out the ice storm because they had no idea how bad it would actually be; however, she did face problems making it to class on Tuesday.


“I commute from West Monroe and have a 3-year-old daughter who goes to pre-k, so when all the schools in Monroe/West Monroe area shut down, I had no other choice but to load my daughter up and travel carefully to my nutrition class,” she said. “It bothered me, not only as a student but also as a mother, that I had to take my child out in the storm because I didn’t want to receive a zero on an assignment when Tech failed to cancel classes.”


Hibbets said he would like to point out that there are other ways to continue class in emergency situations.

“There is no need with today’s technology to make such ignorant decisions of putting students in harm’s way,” he said. “Let them stay home, and let teachers post lessons and assignments on Moodle.”


Though the small ice storm has caused a bit of controversy on Tech campus, Hermes said he believes the situation was handled as best as possible.


“I know we received quite a bit of negative criticism for not closing on Tuesday,” he said. “The weather reports on the Weather Channel and other weather resources did not accurately reflect what we were experiencing, and we do rely quite a bit upon the National Weather Service.”


Hermes said he and other members of the advising team try their best to make wise decisions concerning the students, faculty and staff’s safety in emergency circumstances, and appreciate the understanding, patience and faith shown to them, while they work to manage the “unpredictable” weather situations.



Email comments to alm085@latech.edu.



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