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Cold not causing delays

Aaron Steiner | Thursday, January 29, 2009

South Bend weather continues to reach extremes with temperatures dipping to record lows as students returned to campus earlier this month.

While the weather might continue to test the hardiest of students, assistant vice president for news and information, Dennis Brown said the University said the decision to delay or cancel classes requires careful consideration by several parties.

For weather related closings, particularly snow and ice, Brown said, the decision is made by vice president for business operations, Jim Lyphout and provost, Tim Burish, in consultation with Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) and grounds keeping crews, and may include executive vice president, John Affleck-Graves.

Brown said the groups must “evaluate conditions” and consider a number of factors, including how well campus roads and paths can be cleared, how well roads can be cleared, and the weather forecast.

But, he said, there are no definitive guidelines.

“Every situation is different,” he said. “There isn’t a specific snowfall amount, for example. It would depend on a variety of issues – it might depend on wind, for example, or how fast snowplows can clear the roads.”

Ensuring the safety of students, faculty and staff is paramount, he said, noting that if the roads around campus weren’t passable and staff could not safely come to work, that would be a factor in the decision.

Brown did say that while the University does watch the closures of area schools and businesses, Notre Dame makes independent decisions.

In some cases, other area colleges may close while Notre Dame remains open.

“Notre Dame is different than Bethel, different than [Indiana University-South Bend],” he said. “We’re a residential campus, so [the comparison] is not apples to apples.”

“We’ve looked at other schools around the Midwest,” Brown said, and Notre Dame’s policies compare to other residential campuses.

In the event of a closure or delay, Brown said the University would utilize the Connect-ED system, which can reach students, faculty and staff through a variety of methods including text message, email and phone call.

“We still would rely on radio and TV broadcast,” he said, in addition to the Connect-ED alert.

The last campus closure occurred in December 2000 during final exams week.

“It snowed hard,” Brown said of the incident, stating that exams were rescheduled during the evenings of the three remaining exam days.

In the past 90 years, Notre Dame has closed the campus due to severe winter weather conditions only eight times, according to a Feb. 13, 2008 Observer article.