OPINION: Skating on Ice: Dangerous Winter Conditions at Skidmore
As winter at Skidmore deepens, students across campus pass the time shivering, sitting in window seats watching the snowfall, and, of course, struggling to stay upright on campus’ ice and snow-covered pathways. The recent snowstorms have brought with them the usual falls and concussions. And as is tradition, the Skidmore grounds crew has come under scrutiny for not doing enough to make campus safer.
After the numerous slips and injuries last year, the grounds crew seems to have adopted a more intense maintenance routine to make campus safer. They spread salt plentifully, and frequently remind students and staff to be careful when conditions are slippery. So far this semester, there have been six “slip and fall injuries,” four of which were students and two employees. Campus safety reported that some of these people refused medical attention.
The general student population seems not to have noticed the maintenance, and many still question the upkeep of pathways during the winter. This is understandable, of course, since people are still slipping, falling, and injuring themselves, but students don’t always understand that there is only so much the school can do in the face of such harsh winters.
Winter conditions are difficult to deal with, and salt gets less and less effective as the temperature drops. By the time the weather hits 10 degrees Fahrenheit, salt barely works. Using salt to melt the ice and snow at these temperatures will actually accelerate the refreezing process. The recently melted snow freezes again quickly in the frigid temperatures, making it safer to keep the salt in the bin and leave a layer of snow on the ground. This is what the grounds crew did after the most recent storm, and it has worked well. However, because the paths aren’t entirely free of snow and still present some slippery conditions, the criticism continues.
The storms right after students returned were much icier than the storms have been recently because they were wetter, causing the paths to freeze over with rain and melted snow. The pathway by Wait Hall that leads to the apartments was covered in ice, causing it to close. Despite the grounds crew’s decision to close the pathway, some people continued to complain about the conditions on it.
It is inevitable that campus will be slippery during the winter. The hill between the Tang Museum and the Sports Center is often slick and is dangerous, especially at night. Drivers don’t always slow down enough on Perimeter Road, and it is a dangerous place to fall. It is easy to slip long distances and fall into the dark road.
Students need to realize that measures are being taken to make campus safe, and that it isn’t as simple as putting salt on the ground. Winter conditions are still dangerous, but there are actions that can be taken by the students to make winters safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
Drivers can slow down on perimeter road and in the parking lots, especially where people often cross the road or where it is dark. Students can be more proactive about avoiding slippery areas on campus and being cautious while walking. Finally, we can all recognize the hard work that the grounds crew puts in during the winter to keep us happy and safe.