During the past few days, we’ve seen New England weather at its finest, and it doesn’t seem to be getting warmer any time soon.
With the winter weather comes the hope of snow days, but although those never seem likely, we rely on our maintainers and facilities staff more than usual. As students depend on snow days for the homework they didn’t get to, we depend on our maintainers and facilities staff to ensure we can get to and from class safely.
Specifically Mon. and Tues., students took to social media to express their concerns about the condition of the campus after the snow and ice build up we experienced during the beginning of the week. Gravel could not be seen under the chunks of ice, sidewalks turned into ice rinks, and from what students could tell not much was being done about it.
Students have expressed their concerns through social media apps, especially those who are in need of physical assistance. The campus has become somewhat dangerous to those who are unable to leave their townhouses or dorm rooms.
Students also posted pictures online of the conditions and a quick search for MCLA on Twitter will bring you to many of these pictures and accompanying jokes. Students questioned whether or not maintenance was salting the sidewalks until late in the day. With the College trying to escape its problematic past, i.e. maintenance problems in the Townhouses, and trying to increase enrollment efforts, this is an unnecessary hair-shirt that the College has to wear.
When choosing where you want to spend the next four years of your life, safety is a top priority. While some factors are out of the College’s control, injuries resulting from snow and ice related falls are some of the easiest to prevent.
This leads to multiple questions that at first had gone unanswered. What exactly was the maintenance staff doing to clear the snow and ice? To many students, not much.
SGA did post on their Facebook page a response from the acting Director of Facilities, VP Larry Behan, where he explained that the type of weather we experienced wasn’t expected, fast paced, and students were encouraged to call the Facilities Department to report concerns, (413) 662-5099.
This response came two days into persisting dangerous conditions and many were left unsatisfied by the response and how long it took. Especially when the icy conditions were the focus of open forum at Monday’s SGA meeting and campus administrators like President Birge and VP Cathy Holbrook were inundated with complaints from students.
What everyone needs to keep in mind is that employees do try their hardest to make every spot of campus safe, as quickly as they can, and even Behan said in his statement that, “it was very challenging to get salt and sand to all areas before the campus opened at 8 a.m.”
How can this problem be fixed? How can students safely get around campus, especially those who are injured or disabled? And, will facilities consider hiring more employees during this time of year?
There are students on this campus who would be willing to work on an as needed basis to clear snow and ice. In the grand scheme of things, these students would not be an exorbitant cost to the college. On top of that, students understand the most problematic areas and can direct facilities to prioritize those locations before they ever become a problem.
All of these are questions that many students are probably wondering, and the fact that Behan took the time to respond to students’ concerns is something that’s in the right direction. Hopefully, in the future, a change will be made and there will be less students slipping and sliding on their way to class.