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Cold temperatures force campus closure


Ben Retcofsky, Managing Editor

When will Erie weather make up its mind?

Anyone arriving in Erie this week not having been during the polar vortex would never suspect, as temperatures hit the high fifties on Sunday and Monday. Many Erie residents, and University students specifically, were affected by the negative degree temperatures that hit Erie last Wednesday and Thursday.

Cameron Thomas, Behrend junior, was set to have an exam last Wednesday.

“At first I didn’t think Behrend would actually cancel classes, but once I saw that they did I was pretty excited. It really honestly shocked me but I can’t say I was mad about it.”

Ken Miller, Ed.D., Senior Director of Administration and Student Affairs, told the Beacon that the last time Behrend cancelled classes was a few years back due to the cold and explains that “it is a rare occasion.”

The Behrend campus was closed on Wednesday and classes until 6 p.m. on Thursday were cancelled. There was not much snow, but temperatures dropped below zero on both days. According to Miller, Behrend personnel was still required to report to open food service venues and clear roads and sidewalks as needed, and Police Services was also present on campus; “They should be commended,” said Miller.

Some student workers, specifically students employed at Brunos and Dobbins, were given the option of working on Wednesday. The student workers were either talked to in person or called Tuesday evening and asked if they felt they could work their shift. Students who explained they could not work were not penalized in any way.

Much consideration is put into making the decision to close campus or cancel classes.

“We confer with local weather authorities, in this case Tom Atkins from WJET who is also a part time faculty member, to assess the potential threat extreme weather will pose,” Miller began. “In this case, we were concerned about the wind chills being negative 35 and forecast for all day. Students could be at risk for frostbite going from one end of campus to another. Also, getting out of campus may be even more difficult if we get the foot of snow predicted by Accuweather. The combination led the chancellor to close instead of just canceling classes,” he explained.

Behrend cancelling classes is not a common occurrence, although with temperatures as low as they got, it was the safe choice.