BGSU administration, students prep for winter weather

Gretchen Troxell and Gretchen Troxell

This season’s winter weather is canceling flights, closing down schools, knocking out power and shutting down interstates nationwide. BGSU students need to prepare themselves for the weather as Campus Operations says they will work to ensure the best and safest conditions possible. 

Icy and snowy roads make for dangerous driving conditions. Nationwide, over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle accidents annually on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, according to the Federal Highway Administration. 

Dangerous roads can have a big impact on BGSU students coming to and from campus. These conditions have the biggest effect on commuter students who do not live on campus but travel to attend their classes, either several days a week or every weekday.

Director of Campus Services Eric Heilmeier confirmed the university takes commuter students into consideration when making decisions regarding winter weather.

“[Commuters] play into the decision around if we do a full campus closure. That plays into understanding that we do have students, faculty and staff that have to travel into campus, so when we have a closure like that, that is taken into account,” he said.

For commuters, the trip to campus can be stressful in winter conditions. First-year public relations student Makenna Flores commutes from Northwood, a 35-minute drive, and she is not comfortable driving in extreme conditions.

“I start panicking, and I get really nervous,” she said. “I’m a really cautious and nervous driver already, so if the roads are slippery or there’s water accumulated or ice or snow, I get really nervous, and I drive 5 to 10 [mph] under the speed limit.”

The road conditions also affect non-commuter students coming and going from campus. First-year sociology student Meghan Dunphy, was almost involved in an accident as she tried to travel to campus. 

“I went home, and when I was on my way back to class in the morning, I almost got hit by a semi on [state] Route 6. They need to plow the roads better because my Honda Accord can’t handle it,” she said.

In addition to driving concerns, as temperatures begin to drop, many schools across the country cancel school for cold weather. Schools in northeast Ohio have already made the decision this year, according to ABC News.

For BGSU, the decision to close campus is based upon the input of the police chief, Campus Operations officials, HR and BGSU’s president and provost.

Heilmeier said they consider questions such as: “Is it safe for people to try to get to campus? Is it safe for people on campus to be walking around? Are we able to get enough staff to serve the necessities we need to?” 

However, when the university is open, some students walking around campus to attend their classes have developed tricks for staying warm.

For some students, this means bundling up in the cold weather. First-year journalism student Agatha Hickerson uses layers to keep herself warm. 

“Right now, I’m actually wearing three pairs of pants. It’s very important in the cold weather to layer up and wear as many layers as physically possible,” she said. “I am wearing a pair of leggings and two pairs of sweatpants as well as my Patagonia Columbia jacket, hat and gloves.”

Dunphy also uses a mask to combat the cold temperatures. 

“Face mask is a big one, always on, and finding one that’s warm actually does wonders because the wind is a big factor — goes right into your face,” she said.

As weather conditions continue to affect the entire nation, many BGSU students, faculty and staff continue to work on adjusting to their conditions in order to prioritize safety and education. 

“Safety is paramount to what we do,” Heilmeier said. “We work diligently and, when needed, we work around the clock to ensure campus is ready, so when students, faculty and staff show up, it’s a safe space for them to engage and learn.”