In the last two weeks, President Bruce McLarty has called off school three times and implemented a delayed schedule once.
Despite the consecutive three and four-day weekends, students have still taken to Twitter to plead for more time off.
“Twitter campaigns have no impact on whether or not we have school,” McLarty said, laughing. “Twitter for me, it’s fun. It’s a way to deal with what could be frustrations of a snow day and to push out information. I can laugh about how frustrating (the weather) is and enjoy students’ creativity. I’ve learned that the favorite number of snow days is ‘one more.'”
McLarty makes the official decision about implementing a delay or canceling school anytime there is bad weather. If he is out of town, Vice President David Collins makes the call.
“I try not to make a call based off of a forecast,” McLarty said. “Each of the calls this year has been a little different. Sometimes it’s concern about faculty getting in safely but (Monday) it was sidewalks and everything around campus.”
According to Craig Russell, head of the Department of Public Safety, the university uses Everbridge Emergency Notification system to alert students about closings and delays. He said some students have issues with receiving the messages multiple times in multiple forms of communication, but this can be stopped by simply confirming the receipt of the first message.
“We send out messages by telephone, texting and email,” Russell said. “If you respond, you typically won’t get anymore unless there’s a second, new message.”
If McLarty cannot make the call the night before, he and others come to campus early in the morning on the day of to check the conditions. For example, on Monday, Russell said that he was on campus at 5:30 a.m.
“I was up on the steps of the Benson and I see this bundled up figure and it was Dr. McLarty,” Russell said. “He does a wonderful job. Most students wouldn’t know that he was here that early, but I think it’s pretty neat.”
After winter weather, the physical resource department is ready to clean up campus and make it safe. According to head of the department, Danny Deramus, the snow team salts the sidewalks, shovels snow, and does whatever they can to make campus safe.
“If people can get (to school) that’s fine but we have to have it safe around campus for kids to walk,” Deramus said. “So that’s what we concentrate on at that point is to have clear access on routes and keep the ice off as best we can.”