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University remains open after record snowfall

and | Monday, February 2, 2015

From Saturday night into Monday morning, the South Bend area accumulated record-setting amounts of snow, but the University of Notre Dame remained open.

“As fun as it would be to have the day off, that’s not why we’re here. As long as it is safe for the teachers and students to go to class that’s what should happen,” senior Patrick Haggerty said. “It’s when it’s no longer safe that the University needs to seriously consider taking action to keep their students and staff safe.”

Students traverse campus during  the record-breaking snowfall on Super Bowl Sunday. South Bend  experienced an unprecedented 14.7 inches of snow during the ongoing Winter Storm Linus.Michael Yu | The Observer

Students traverse campus during the record-breaking snowfall on Super Bowl Sunday. South Bend
experienced an unprecedented 14.7 inches of snow during the ongoing Winter Storm Linus.

According to the South Bend Tribune, the snowfall reached unprecedented levels.

“South Bend broke a record for snow on Feb. 1 with 14.7 inches,” the report by Howard Dukes stated. “That broke the 2011 record of 8.4 inches. Sunday’s record-breaking snowfall in South Bend is nearly equal to the monthly average for the entire month of February (15 inches).”

Although the University did not cancel classes, students expressed little discontent with the snowy situation.

“I wasn’t too upset school wasn’t cancelled today, because I didn’t expect it to be at all,” junior Eric Woitchek said. “Notre Dame has set a precedent of staying open even in the most extreme conditions. Last year, it took the entire city of South Bend to shut down for school to eventually be cancelled.”

The snow did not pose a major problem for on-campus students, as they did not have much difficulty traveling to their classes, Woitchek said.

“I didn’t struggle to get to class today,” he said. “I live in Dillon Hall, so all I had to do was lace up my boots, throw on a coat and hat, and keep my balance walking for five minutes.”

Students noticed the work of Notre Dame Landscape Services, better known as the University’s grounds crew, as they worked through snow to travel across campus.

“If you walk to class, you really have no reason to complain,” freshman Ryan McKeown said. “There was maybe an inch of snow on the sidewalks. Notre Dame never gets snow days. I was not expecting one, so today was a regular Monday.”

For off-campus students, the Notre Dame Security Police recommended making sure their cars were prepared for the conditions and the snow plows had the opportunity to do their work.

“I didn’t have any difficulty getting to class, but I can’t speak for the kids who live off campus,” Woitchek said. “If they were risking their well-being in any way to get to class, the administration made the wrong call.”

Off-campus senior Shannon Kirk said her normal route from Irish Row to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC), which takes 15 minutes by car or 10 to 12 minutes by bus, lasted 45 minutes Monday morning.

“First, I waited in the cold for 10 minutes for the bus that never came,” she said. “Then I finally decided to drive, and when I arrived at school at 9:05, the C1 lot … was blocked off because they were trying to plow it.”

“If they are going to have class, they should have campus roads and parking lots plowed by the time people are arriving for their first class,” Kirk said.

According to Kirk, senior Nick Muench, whose car does not have four-wheel drive, opted for an Uber ride to campus.

Off-campus senior Arturo Chiquito said he and fellow senior Alejandro Porras were able to take the TRANSPO bus from University Edge to get to class on time.

“It took a bit longer [to arrive at Notre Dame] because [the bus] went slower, but I felt safe,” Chiquito said. “I was fine with it. Most of the roads were clear.”

According to the faculty and staff newspaper, ND Works, it takes more than 500 tons of salt and 25 trucks of several varieties to clear the snow each year. Eight Bobcat Toolcats are used to clear the sidewalks, which is perhaps the most vital task in ensuring students make it to class on time.

“We are here to learn and pay a large annual sum for that purpose,” sophomore Louis Bertolotti said. “I’m glad that the University allowed us this great day of knowledge.”

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About Rachel O'Grady

Rachel O'Grady is a senior Political Science major living in Ryan Hall and is currently serving as an Assistant Managing Editor. Hailing from Chicago (actual Chicago, not the suburbs) she's been a Cubs fan since birth.

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About Lesley Stevenson

Lesley Stevenson is a senior news writer for The Observer after previously serving as News Editor and an Assistant Managing Editor. She is a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, studying Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and American Studies and living in Breen-Phillips Hall. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lcstevenson, and visit her website at lcstevenson.wordpress.com

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  • Please do not indulge The Weather Channel in their pretentious practice of “naming” snow events. TWC is not a the National Weather Service. Ever since they were purchased by NBC/Universal, they become less about weather, and more about personalities, sensationalism, and cheap reality shows.

    One Facebook user posted THIS criticism: “Naming winter storms is the dumbest idea ever. Why hasn’t NWS or any other reputable weather reporting source joined in the naming? Oh, maybe they still feel their role is serious reporting – instead of sensationalizing, dramatizing and commercializing.” It’s pretty much how I have always felt.

    TWC’s Tom Niziol attempted to deflect the criticism: “One reason we’re doing this, simply put, is we can. We cover weather on a national scale. By ascribing a name to a weather system that’s gonna create those types of impacts, we can follow it right across the country.”

    THAT’S their answer? “We do it because we CAN”?? And the only way the personalities at TWC can keep their eye on a weather system is to give it some kind of cute name? That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.