Making the call: to close or not to close campus

Freezing rain covered outside surfaces, including vehicle windshields, roads and sidewalks with nearly a quarter inch of ice on Thursday, Jan. 24.

More than 30 school districts in the Treasure Valley were closed due to the extreme weather conditions, with a few notable exclusions: Boise State University and Boise and Meridian schools.

Kevin Satterlee, Vice President of Campus Operations and General Counsel, explained there are numerous factors which play into the decision making process to cancel classes.

The process for determining if weather will cause campus to close began, in this case, last night when a weather advisory was issued for Boise and the surrounding area. The decision making process became increasingly active around 5 a.m.

Beyond weather conditions, Satterlee mentioned other factors that can affect the decision making process.

“The concern for our students is paramount. The concern for the mission of the university, our employees and students that have to make it into school; all those things play into account,” Satterlee said.

The numerous activities taking place on campus, such as planned events in the Student Union Building, are a factor as are events away from campus like Boise State Day at the Capitol which took place today.

While these and many more factors play a role, the decision comes down to a number of individuals ranging from campus security to facilities, operations and maintenance and the director of emergency management based on the information gathered from Idaho State Police, Ada County Police, the Road Reports and more.

“It’s no one individual, except for, of course, it’s always ultimately the president who can make the decision anytime,” Satterlee said.

Satterlee stated 6,000 gallons of liquid de-icer, 10,000 pounds of granulated deicer and 10 cubic yards of sand were spread on campus today beginning around 5 a.m.

Dan Hollar, a Boise school district spokesman told KTVB, the district made the best choice they could in keeping Boise schools open based on the information they had at the time, however, in hindsight it was probably the wrong decision.

Hollar added, weather reports indicated the freezing rain would turn to snow, which didn’t end up happening and shortly before noon the Boise School District decided to cancel afternoon kindergarten, preschool and evening classes in addition to Treasure Valley Mathematics and Science Center Afternoon Program and the Professional Technical Education Program.

Class cancelations at Boise State were another matter, however, and any cancellations were made on a case-by-case basis, determined by the professors teaching them. And although severe road conditions and some remaining ice on walking surfaces may have posed a hazard to students, faculty and staff alike, when asked if he stands by the university’s decision to remain open today Satterlee said, “Yes, I do.”

Some Boise State students disagree. Students posted status updates to social media sites ranging from:

“Don’t cancel school Boise State. It’s ok. I literally cannot exit my apartment complex due to thick ice in the road. Also a Toyota Camry has slid off the road right at the entrance. But don’t cancel class Boise State.”

to:

“Today I learned how to ice skate without having ice skates on. All this ice on the ground is going to kill me.”

Regardless of personal feelings about the lack of school closure, students are reminded to give cars plenty of room and to walk like a penguin for balance.

For additional tips for walking on ice click here

About the author  ⁄ Amy Merrill

Amy Merrill

Amy is a senior at Boise State and the current news editor for The Arbiter. She crammed everything she possibly could into a single degree; a dual major in communication and English, a journalism emphasis and a political science minor. She is eager to earn what she calls, "that expensive piece of paper" on May 18, but in the meantime is focused on bringing campus as much news as humanly possible.