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University: We messed up: Ice covers campus, classes continue

After a Monday night winter storm left the Peoria area covered in ice, Vice President for Business Affairs Gary Anna said the decision to host classes as scheduled was a mistake.

“Most people would say that we should have, at least, delayed opening until 10:00 [a.m.] or later, and I would certainly agree with that,” Anna said. “That was an error in judgment as a result of an incomplete assessment, and I’ll take responsibility for that. Major roads and thoroughfares were very navigable; driveways and side streets were obviously not.”

Although the university’s assessment and communication routine for inclement weather conditions were followed, Anna said this procedure was incomplete for Tuesday’s conditions, resulting in the misjudgment.

“That judgment was further compounded by a failure of equipment that resulted in our campus walks and some streets not being salted according to our standards [and] expectations,” Anna said. “This was through no fault or failure of our grounds crew who have performed admirably again this season.”

Junior actuarial science major Stacy Hoefert, who said she fell multiple times and was unable to stop her car that was going idle speed, expressed displeasure with the university’s response.

“When I left my house at 8:15 [a.m.], they hadn’t even started salting the roads around campus,” Hoefert said. “They sell Bradley on the fact that they care about their students; that was not the message they sent with their actions today.”

Student Senate Vice President of Campus Affairs Alex Estes was also dissatisfied with how the issues were handled, saying his department is working to better meet student needs.

“The University knew this ice storm was going to occur over the night; this could have been prevented with better communication to the grounds staff or even just delaying classes,” Estes said. “Currently, the Department of Campus Affairs is working on a proposal for water and snow removal to present to the university so things like this past Tuesday can be avoided.”

Estes’ fellow cabinet member, Vice President of Campus Safety Cody Lonigro, offered a different perspective.

“I think that the groundskeepers are doing a great job keeping the sidewalks cleared for us, and I think it is important for students to help them by reporting any bad spots they see around campus so more attention can be given to those areas,” Lonigro, a senior criminal justice major, said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Nathan Thomas said in events like these, students should take it on a case-by-case basis and figure out what is safest for them as individuals.

“I think the most important thing here is that people need to make good decisions and do what they need to do in order to be safe, either walking to class or even if that means staying at home and figuring out ways to make up their work as it’s appropriate,” he said.

Some professors cancelled their own classes, allowing students to avoid the icy conditions.

“In certain cases, the faculty have the prerogative to adjust their classes; if someone was unable to travel safely to campus, cancelling class was a responsible action,” Anna said. “Obviously we can do better under similar conditions in the future – we will.”

One Comment

  1. Randall Emert Sr Randall Emert Sr March 21, 2015

    I don’t think the University “knew” that an ice storm was coming. Heck, the local weather forecasters and the NWS predicted a small amount of ice and that it would be gone by sunrise as the temps warmed above freezing. That is why maybe the University, and indeed many other businesses an school districts didn’t prepare or respond to the weather. We were told by a another wrong forecast that this event would mostly be felt during the night hours. They were wrong of course and everyone, including the city street crews were caught by surprise when the ice was much worse and lasted much longer than mid morning. The problem was a missed forecast which is nothing unusual for Peoria.

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