ISU cancels class first time this academic year

Bryan Cote, sophomore in chemical engineering, throws a snowball at Max Lin, senior in management information systems, on Central Campus on Feb. 20. Classes were canceled after 12:40 p.m. due to the inclement weather.

Lani Tons

Due to inclement weather, Iowa State University canceled classes for the first time this academic year.

Warren Madden, ISU senior vice president for Business and Finance made the decision to cancel classes starting at 12:40 p.m., Feb. 20.

Madden took into consideration the severe blizzard warning that was put in place for Story County, which included snow fall amounts and recommendations not to travel. 

“I consulted with a number of people; the Department of Safety, National Weather Service,” Madden said.

He checked with communities in Ames and found what public schools were doing in response to the weather, as well as took advice from local law agencies and the Department of Transportation. He also consulted the president’s office.

Facilities Planning and Management deals with campus maintenance and is responsible for snow removal.

Lester Lawson, manager of facilities maintenance, sent out snow removal crews to sand and plow throughout campus, so students can avoid common safety issues such as slipping and falling on the sidewalks.

Lawson warned those on campus to stay out of the way of these crews.

CyRide experienced difficulties as the storm progressed. Buses were arriving from a few minutes to 30 minutes late on their routes. Some buses even got stuck.

“Obviously, at the height of the storm, we had some issues just like all other vehicles that were on the road at that particular time,” Sheri Kyras, director of transit for CyRide.

Kyras said that CyRide drivers are trained to drive in winter weather conditions.

“All of our drivers go through a very extensive driver training program,” Kyras said. “All drivers are in training for about 140 hours before they operate the bus on their own.”

CyRide drivers also learn slide training.

“As the bus begins to slide, [drivers] know how to adjust safely to get out of that slide and back in control of the vehicle again,” Kyras said.

Because they didn’t have classes to attend, students were up to different activities in the afternoon. Julien Stratton, senior in financial counseling and planning, was in class when a student announced that classes were to be canceled.

Stratton said he was hopeful that the university would cancel classes, but thought the weatherman was exaggerating snow totals.

“Iowa State never cancels,” Stratton said.

He planned to spend the rest of his snow day catching up on homework.

Other students took a different approach to celebrating their newly found free time with a snowball fight on the courtyard of Richardson Court.

“As soon as I heard about [the class cancellations], I started organizing a snow ball fight [with the guys in my dorm],” Karson Westerkamp, freshman in elementary education.

Behind the snowball fight there were snowmen being built and students playing in the snow.

Not all students thought the weather would cause a cancellation of classes.

Alex Diers, freshman in psychology, took place in the snowball fight at Richardson Court. 

“I just kind of sat around in my dorm, but then a bunch of guys decided we should have a snow ball fight and that’s how this appeared,” Diers said.

Madden said canceling class has its drawbacks.

“We are not like a public school,” Madden said. “We have no make up days. We lose the opportunity for continuing the educational experience that goes on.”

Madden said canceling classes is a “balancing act,” where he must take into consideration students’ safety and access to education.

“We expect people to know the weather conditions [in Iowa],” Madden said. “This is a state that has a winter.”