This has been a rough winter where I live. We are not used to ice and snow, but many of us have adapted fairly well. As an adult, I realize that I can’t simply refuse to venture out when the thermometer hits 32 degrees. I don’t like going out, but I do what I have to do. Unfortunately, it would seem that some do not do what they have to do. This week we have had more snow and ice. Public schools were closed Monday and Tuesday, and my university closed Monday and opened midday Tuesday. Rain and freezing temperatures were predicted for Tuesday evening, possibly making driving treacherous. The city I live in and the cities I travel to require driving over bridges. According to the expensive blue reflector signs placed by many of these bridges, we KNOW that bridges freeze before roadways. This being the case, I head out to campus at 6:30 last evening, in the freezing rain. The main roads were clear so no trouble there. As I got closer to campus I felt my car sliding on the bridge, but I kept it together and made it to the parking garage. This is where the trouble begins.
The ramps in the garage were very slippery, and I noticed many campus police cars were parked in the garage. This is unusual, and left me wondering if they had the day off? Many of the students at my university are commuters, and this garage is generally full. This garage is across a main city road from campus, but is still part of the campus, as are the academic buildings on this side of the road. From the ice remaining on the sidewalks and stairs on this side of the road, one might assume these areas merit less attention than those on the “main” campus, where the sidewalks and stairs were completely clear. A main road leading out of the garage was covered in ice, as were the sidewalks and stairs in this area. Upon leaving one of these buildings, I found myself in a pile at the bottom of the icy stairs. Even the handrail was a sheet of ice.
Now, I understand that it was my choice to head out last evening, and that I likely could have e mailed my professor and indicated that I was staying home. However, as a graduate student, I am obligated to be supervised for a certain number of hours during my practicum. We are allowed to miss one supervision meeting, and with 9 weeks yet to go, I don’t want to waste my absence and not have it if I need it later. This is why I went to school, even though I really didn’t want to. I wrongly assumed that my school would have taken steps to ensure the safety of ALL students, not just those that live on campus.
Supervision only lasted one hour, but by the time I began my trip home, the ice had gotten so bad that the bridge to home was closed due to a 15 car accident. Traffic was rerouted and the next bridge I encountered was cleaning up a 4 car accident that stopped us for 15 minutes. This, coupled with pain from falling, left me frustrated and in tears.
My gripe this morning is not with the bridges being closed, but with my university’s neglect of the sidewalks and buildings across the road from the main campus. The sidewalks used by commuters. This university has recently transformed from a commuter school to a residential campus, but commuters are still a substantial portion of the student body. I have heard others complain that although commuters played a huge role in the success of this university, we are now second class citizens as the push for on campus residents becomes prominent. This leaves many of us disgruntled and quite frankly our enthusiasm for the university is waning. So frequently I hear people saying they can’t wait to get out of here, and more often than not this is related to discrepancies we have witnessed or suffered through. In life, I have been told to remember those that helped you get where you are (commuters), but it seems that those in charge of safety at my university forgot this when clearing snow and ice yesterday. I am hoping that the accidents and bridge closures will make an impact on those that must decide whether or not to hold classes in the future. I know that there is never a perfect solution, but if the university is going to be open then steps must be taken to ensure the safety of ALL students, not just those that live on the correct side of the road.