School stays open despite snow storm

Julie Herrmann and Lakeidra Chavis/ Sun Star Reporters
Nov. 19, 2013

Last week’s storm, which left thousands of residences and businesses without power,  didn’t deter the university from remaining open for business.

Memos released by Chancellor Brian Rogers on Thursday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 15 stated that the UAF campus would stay open but that students and staff should be careful when deciding whether or not to come to class or work. The meo also asked that professors and supervisors be flexible with their students and employees.

Classes were cancelled after 5 p.m. on Nov. 14 along with most evening events except sports.

The Wood Center and the Rasmuson Library had shortened hours.

The Atkinson Heat and Power Plant provides UAF’s electricity and heat, so the main campus was not affected by the power outages that affected parts of the rest of the city.

Classes at the Community and Technical College were cancelled for most of the day on Thursday because some of the buildings were without power.  CTC classes held at Hutchison High School were cancelled on Friday after 3 p.m.

Storms cost the university money, in terms of snow removal and building maintenance like additional heating.

If the chancellor decided to close campus due to the storm, the university would have had to cover costs such as administrative leave for faculty and staff.

“The university does have some flex in its budget to accommodate unexpected expenses,” said Marmiam Grimes, UAF’s Senior Public Information Officer said in an email.

Grimes said that if a big enough storm occurred, in which the university shut down, the money to pay for the expenses would most likely come from other areas of the university’s budget, which might adversely affect staff and students.

The last time the university shut down due to weather was during 2010, when an ice storm hit Fairbanks.

Student reactions to the university remaining open were mixed, according to Grimes.

“We haven’t done a comprehensive survey of students, faculty and staff – but, anecdotally, some expressed concern that folks might be endangered driving in windy, potentially icy weather,” Grimes said.

She said that other students said that the conditions did not seem too dangerous.

The university has its own food services, showers and heat.

These services are beneficial when there are power outages and the university remains open, so off-campus residents can use them, according to Grimes.

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