The start of the spring semester was marked with a late start, an early close and a whole day cancelled within the first two months.
“No matter how annoyed I might get, no assignment, no class activity is more important than our students lives,” said Darla Mallein, professor of social sciences. “I always support the university’s decision to close down campus. Also, I’m preparing future teachers, so I hope it’s a learning experience that I have to be flexible.”
While sometimes the weather seems bad enough that campus should close especially as the polar vortex passed through recently.
“I think if it were simply a matter of cold, it would have to be extremely cold for us to cancel just for that reason,” Cordle said.
The decision to close campus is a group decision including David Cordle, provost, Diana Kuhlman, vice president admiration and finance, Mark Rungee director of facilities and Jim Williams, vice president of affairs and marketing and media relations, according to Cordle
“We try to keep President Garrett involved in it to the extent she needs to be,” Cordle said. “President Garrett has dictated to me the final decision on what we do.”
Last Thursday was when the campus shut down for an entire day because of a thick layer of ice that had set over campus, making it too risky for those who may drive to campus, Cordle said.
“We’re quite concerned about safety here on the campus, people being able to get around on campus the way they need to.” Cordle said. "We’re also quite concerned about those who are having to drive to the campus from wherever they are coming from."
Some teachers who plan their classes very specifically might face challenges when it comes to moving these days around.
“My first response is always 'Oh no, I had this coming up,'” said Mallein. “If I really wanted to do it, they could do it on their own. We also have canvas, so if there is something I really needed I could have put it online.”
Building facilities are the ones responsible for getting the salt down and for trying to make campus safe for students and faculty alike.
“There was a significant layer of ice and it was very cold (on Thursday),” Cordle said. “When ice is as thick as it was yesterday morning (Thursday), the treatments that our facilities folks use which is usually some combination of brine, salt and jadeite. They have a very hard time working effectively when the ice is that thick.”
Not everyone agrees with the decisions that the group makes about whether they are going to close campus or keep campus closed. There is a lot of students on social media sharing their view, but some go further.
“We do hear from students, and as you might imagine, if they are comfortable with the decision they aren’t going to reach out,” Cordle said. “There wouldn’t be any reason to, but when students are inconvenienced by a closing or alternatively if they run into a problem because we didn’t close, they do let us hear about.”
Marketing and Media is charged with the task of sending out alerts to not only students but everyone else who may need to know, including local radio stations according to Gwen Larson, assistant director of media relations
“There is a little bit of adrenaline,” Larson said in a phone interview. “We have over the last few years split the duties. The emergency manager for Emporia State activates the alert system that send the text message, email, sends message to our Facebook account, our Twitter account and adds it to the home page of the website. I alert the media.”
When campus closes down, it doesn’t mean that everything stops. Things like the cafeteria stay open and staff may still receive payment for those days.
“We still have costs even if the university is shut down. For instance, I would still get paid for that day in my pay check,” Larson said. “There would still be costs involved with that and then there are going to be costs involved with whatever materials our university facilities people use.”