Students suffer painful falls throughout campus


Photo: Blake Lanser/Iowa State D

After the quick approach and start of the recent winter storm, ISU classes after 5 p.m. were canceled. Parks Library also closed at 8 p.m. in anticipation of the bad weather. 

Jared Raney

Mariah Wagner was on her way home from an 8 a.m. class Tuesday, walking past building 61 of Frederikson Court, when she slipped on the ice, breaking her ankle in the fall.

“I saw three other people fall while I was walking … and slipped once before,” said Wagner, sophomore in advertising.

Wagner said she heard her ankle crack when she fell; her first thought was, “I don’t have time for this.”

Tom Hill, vice president of student affairs, said the decision to cancel classes due to weather is discussed among senior leadership before a decision is reached.

Senior leadership includes ISU President Steven Leath and Vice President of Business and Finance Warren Madden. Leadership takes into account the severity of weather, amount of snow and road conditions among other things before closing the university.

Hill said their decision is also based in part on the typicality of weather.

“The key is unnecessary, undue risk,” Hill said. “It depends on how out-of-the-ordinary the weather is. The goal is never to put anyone’s safety at risk.”

Around a dozen students were treated at Thielen Student Health Center on Tuesday for storm-related injuries including broken bones, head injuries, strains, sprains and lower back pain.

Snow removal at the university is performed by the facilities planning and management department. Staff began snow removal at 2 a.m. Wednesday, clearing the 32 miles of sidewalk before students made their way to classes.

“Most routes take about four to five hours to clear,” said Les Lawson, manager of Facilities Planning and Management.

Although Lawson and the FPM staff spend hours clearing campus of snow, the sidewalks appear unsafe; in some places entirely covered by ice and slush.

“The sidewalks will always have stuff on them that we can’t get off,” Lawson said.

Facilities Planning and Management uses plows, broom machines and sanders to clear the sidewalks, roads and parking lots of snow as best they can while students hurry to classes around them.

The workers work all day to clear the continuously falling snow, Lawson said.

“During my tenure I think university administration has done an incredible job making those decisions,” Hill said. “It’s not perfect, but we make the best calls we can.”

Iowa State’s many sidewalks are the only option for students and faculty because some buses only take one route through the heart of campus. 

“I’m not going to lie to you, I fell this morning,” Hill said. “Maybe if classes had been canceled it wouldn’t have happened. Odds are I would have gone to the store, and I still might have fell anyway.”