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Ice, ice baby: OSU gives snow day the cold shoulder

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Students across campus Tuesday slipped and tumbled their way to classes they thought should have been canceled.

“I slipped on ice today, and my boyfriend, and my roommate (did too),” said Tania Sherry, a first-year graduate student in rural sociology. “It took a long time to scrape ice off of my car. My professor was very supportive, but it would be better if OSU canceled classes overall.”

After Facilities Operations and Development workers and Transportation and Parking maintenance workers spent most of the day removing ice, Ohio State’s Columbus campus canceled Tuesday’s evening classes.

OSU followed other Ohio universities that issued class cancellations.

Kent State University, the University of Dayton and Denison University canceled all Tuesday classes, and Miami University canceled classes after 2 p.m.

OSU main campus’ move also followed OSU’s Marion, Newark and Delaware campuses, which were closed Tuesday.

“I live close to my classes. But, for the commuters who live far away, I feel bad. I had trouble today on 16th (Avenue) with ice,” said Dina Hocevar, a third-year in strategic communications.

Students and professors alike had trouble with the icy conditions.

“After two painful falls I went back inside to check the weather and realized that things were not going to change substantially in the next couple of hours,” said Rebecca Wanzo, a professor in the English and women’s studies departments, in an e-mail. “I e-mailed my students and contacted my department to tell them that my class was cancelled.”

As of Tuesday evening, about 45 people were admitted to the OSU Medical Center Tuesday for injuries related to slipping and falling from ice, said Eileen Scahill, medical center spokeswoman.

FOD works with Transportation and Parking and the university to decide whether a school cancellation should be considered.

“The ice started pretty much in the commuting hour,” said Sarah Blouch, director of traffic, parking and transportation. “Our question is ‘can we make the campus safe?’ The roads are great, we just don’t get that volume in parking lots.”

FOD crews began working at 3 a.m. in preparation for ice, said Peter Calamari, assistant director of FOD.

Transportation and Parking members began at 5 a.m., Blouch said.

The two departments focus on specific areas they need to cover first when it comes to preparing for snow or ice removal.

“We work hard to provide a high level of service to the entire campus but focus initially on the medical center, 24-hour operations like Blankenship Hall, Vet Hospital, residential halls and then campus kitchen loading docks and high usage campus facilities like RPAC and the Union,” Calamari said in an e-mail.

“Handicap entrances are a high priority,” said Jon Clark, building and maintenance supervisor.

The unusual amount of ice with no snow caused some problems for FOD workers.

“Ice is the worst,” said Timothy Murray, FOD groundskeeper. “It’s everywhere, so we really have to prioritize slopes. We need more workers too; it’s a big campus.”

A lack of salt posed another obstacle.

“The problem is we don’t normally do a lot of salting, so we don’t have the equipment. We only have one truck with a saltbox,” Blouch said. “There’s usually not a need, but this was an unusual glaze of ice.”

With more than 23,000 surface parking spaces, the Transportation and Parking Department is bringing in three contracted companies for ice removal early Wednesday morning.

Contracted companies for salting and snow and ice removal are commonplace and FOD allows the contractors the flexibility of managing their own workers, Clark said.

“With additional ice accumulation possible, there could be some hazardous walking and driving conditions in the morning,” said Andrew Snyder, Meteorologist for National Weather Service.

Katie Huston, Rick Schanz, Ally Marotti and Emily Spencer contributed to this story.

 

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