Monica Szakacs, News Writer-
This year, Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations, said the grounds division is not getting time between storms for adequate clean up, so they are constantly playing catch up.
“Clean up from any storm takes days,” said Sheeley, “and with the large storms we have been having, the number of days extended.”
Amanda Mcandrew, sophomore art education major and Brownell Hall resident, said workers have been clearing off the steps to the back entrance of Brownell, and they are plowing the parking lots as frequently as necessary. She said no school is perfect and Southern is doing the best they can to not inconvenience students any further.
“It’s hard to keep up with almost constant snow and ice fall,” said Mcandrew, “but that’s New England for you—hello, four seasons.”
The first priority in getting the campus open is safety, according to Sheeley. By code, the grounds crew must clear snow from all doorways, which is a large task, he said, since the number of doorways is associated with over 40 buildings.
“In our effort to get the job done,” said Sheeley, “some walkways could be missed and we are constantly assessing after a storm what has been done and what needs to be done.”
Mcandrew said the snow and ice storms are not really affecting her that much. She said it is a little slippery, but she it is not a huge inconvenience.
Ryan Stein, a junior exercise science major and Schwartz Hall resident, said it seems like it takes a while for workers to shovel. Stein also said he noticed the school should put down more salt and sand to prevent ice buildup.
“I really can’t tell if they have enough workers,” said Stein, “because it seems like one day they’ll have a lot of workers out and then another day there’s none to be seen, and there’s still debris on the walkways and stuff, so it seems like it’s a little disorganized at most.”
Snow removal funds are a part of the operating budget for the grounds division. This fiscal year 2011, there is an operating budget for the grounds division of $237,500, according to Sheeley. So far this winter, he said $58,240 has been spent on snow removal operations, such as shoveling, plowing, sand, salt, ice melt and contractual meal allowance for employees. The grounds crew consists of eight budgeted positions, according to Sheeley, with one position vacant and one individual out on Workmen Compensation.
“We have one mechanic and one carpenter,” said Sheeley, “who volunteer to operate our large plowing trucks that required special licensing, and we have five people who have volunteered to shovel.”
Sheeley said there are contracts in place for plowing and snow shoveling that the division uses when conditions warrant it. This year, he said they have used both contractors extensively. If the remainder of the season continues to snow as it has been, Sheeley said, if needed, the funding for additional snow removal will have to come from within the overall operating budget, and other operations will suffer.
The amount of snowfall brought inconvenient parking situations to residents like Stein, who said he had to move his car around campus at odd hours, night and morning.
“I had to move my car one time at 6:30 in the morning,” said Stein. “I really don’t understand why, because it was moving a car from a parking garage that was empty, to a lot where it was going to be covered with snow and probably just going to have to be moved again, so that was frustrating.”
Mcandrew said she has been fortunate to find parking in the West Campus garage. She said she is thankful that she did not have to shovel her car out like many residents she has seen.
The early semester class cancellations have affected professors and classes. Ross Gingrich, a mathematics professor, said he cannot get through the material he would have normally with the regular “rhythm” of the course.
“Professors have a rhythm that they create with a course,” said Gingrich. “Even with today, I had a morning class and half the class wasn’t there so the same rhythm isn’t there. I e-mailed some work to my students so they have things to work through these cancellations.”
Joseph Fields, also a mathematics professor, said he will have to rush material at some point in the semester. He also said not all courses are the same.
“There are some courses you can stop wherever you happen to stop,” said Fields, “but there are others that are prerequisites for future courses, so if you don’t get to the material then there are major consequences for next courses.”