Campus reacts to class cancellations

Tal Norvell/ Sun Star Reporter

Jan. 28, 2014

Footprints in the ice due to warm weather from rain and warm temperatures on Friday, Jan. 22. Tal Norvell/ Sun Star

Footprints in the ice due to warm weather from rain and warm temperatures on Friday, Jan. 22. Tal Norvell/ Sun Star

Classes were cancelled on Friday because of slick roads and sidewalks due to usually warm temperatures and freezing rain. 

The freezing rain began on Thursday morning.  An email from Chancellor Brian Rogers sent out at noon on Thursday recommended that students stay where they were, but said that classes were still happening.

Some students wondered why the warning email from UAF Alerts was sent out at noon instead of when the rain started on Thursday.

“I think it was kind of interesting that the alert didn’t come out at six-thirty in the morning like it usually does,” said freshman Wildlife Biology student Dawson Foster.

“Early in the morning it wasn’t clear that conditions were going to be as bad as they ultimately were,” said UAF Senior Public Information Officer Marmian Grimes. “When our incident management team came together mid-morning on Thursday, the roads had started to get worse. That prompted the noon-time message.”

She said classes weren’t cancelled on Thursday in order to reduce accidents.

“If you have people on campus or at class, sometimes saying ‘okay everybody go home right now’ is not the safest solution. That sends a bunch of people out onto the roads,” Grimes said.

She told students not to come to class if it meant risking their own safety, and suggested signing up for text message notifications on the UAF Alerts website, calling 474-7823 or checking Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates.

“We try to reinforce with both supervisors and faculty members that they need to be flexible with students and employees that can’t make it to campus safely,” Grimes said.

The icy paths created mixed feelings for students.

“Personally, I love it,” said 21-year-old Mathematics student Christian Burns-Shafer. “You can slide around all over campus, and it’s really fun going down hills. But I grew up in Fairbanks so I’m used to it. My friends have been complaining though.”

“I nearly slipped a million times when I walked outside,” said 19-year-old Civil Engineering student Emma Frankson.

Slippery sidewalks have made a spectacle of some people.

 “I’ve noticed a lot of people waddling with their arms outstretched,” 19-year-old Biology student Lance Yarborough said. “I’ve even seen someone trying to skate down one of the sidewalks.”

Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management have done their best to reduce falling injuries, according to UAF Police Investigator Steve Goetz on Friday. “They’ve issued out free ice cleats to students and staff, which has prevented people from falling and receiving serious injuries.”

Goetz mentioned his department was aware of an increase in motor vehicle accidents around town, but not on campus. “The roads and grounds folks have done such a good job at keeping the roads graveled that we really haven’t had an issue here on campus,” Goetz said.

Grimes had similar praise for the grounds crew.

“Our facilities folks are pretty amazing. When I come to campus I can visually see where our maintenance workers have covered, because they’re right on top of it.”

Students were notified of Friday’s cancelled classes at 6:30 a.m.  Classes and events resumed on Saturday.

“The biggest problem now is professors have to figure out how to make up for the lost class time,” said 22-year-old Civil Engineering student Tux Seims. “Overall though, it’s great to have another three day weekend.”

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