The temperatures at Slippery Rock have been dropping below zero degrees resulting in two two-hour delays and two cancellations of evening classes for students and faculty. SRU students expressed mixed emotions through social media, such as Yik Yak and Twitter, about how delays and cancellations are handled at SRU.
On Feb. 16, there was confusion among students on whether the university was on a two-hour delay schedule or not because there was a message left on the university emergency hotline saying for Feb. 18, the university was on a two hour delay schedule.
“I can only apologize for that,” Rita Abent, Executive Director for SRU Public Relations and member of SRU’s emergency team (E-team) said. “There was an equipment error and it is being worked on by IT.”
Abent said students shouldn’t rely on just the emergency hotline because notifications for delays and closings will always be sent via E2Campus text alerts, SRU email, featured on the university’s homepage, television and the radio.
“When a decision is made, we communicate it immediately,” Abent added. “If you don’t hear from us, the university is running on a normal schedule.”
Abent also clarified that a low temperature does not automatically dictate a closing.
“On the Thursday [Feb. 19] and Friday [Feb. 20] we had a delay, those were the result of the facilities staff not having the equipment to be able to insure that the campus would be cleared and safe by 8 a.m.,” Abent said. “While we did have severe temperatures this week, the campus was safe. We have an expectation that our students will dress appropriately for conditions.”
Abent said the conditions of campus parking lots, sidewalks, roads and availability of utility services are all taken into consideration when delaying or cancelling classes.
“A delayed opening is usually recommended when an additional two hours would give campus and road crews sufficient time to clear walkways, parking lots and roads and make the campus safe for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Abent explained.
Abent said that a cancellation is considered when the conditions of the campus are not able to be maintained in a reasonable amount of time.
“The key word here is reasonable,” she said. “Will everything be plowed to bare pavement and dry? Probably not, but you would be able to walk, drive and park with minimum difficulty. The E-team is constantly evaluating conditions since they change throughout the day.”
As the E-team is constantly evaluating temperatures and campus conditions throughout the day, there have been two cancellations of evening classes. Abent explained that the decision to cancel the whole day is made no later than 6 a.m. and the decision to cancel evening classes is made no later than 3 p.m.
Abent explained that in the event of a full day cancellation, there would be a complete suspension of all university operations, other than the essentials, such as residence halls, dining, and health services.
“A couple of the issues the president’s cabinet and the E-team are reviewing are what facilities in addition to the residence halls, dining and the health center should be open and available,” she added. “The provost is also reviewing ways in which instruction might be delivered during the rare occasion the university might close.”
Students can sign up for E2Campus text alerts by going to the Slippery Rock University website. Abent said with the cold weather students can protect themselves by dressing warm, protecting the extremities such as hands and feet, wearing a hat, wearing proper boots, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, getting out of wet clothing as soon as possible, knowing the signs of hypothermia and watching for frostbite.