BU Maintenance Breaks The Ice, With Salt


Students walk along sidewalks mid-afternoon after some of the snow has melted. Photo by Caleb Brown.

Caleb Brown, Staff Writer

Waking up in the morning to a fresh blanket of snow carpeting the campus can be both a joyful and worrying sight. One might check their emails or their text messages hoping to see if classes are canceled or if there is an emergency alert message. However, no matter what one sees in their inboxes, a question looms; will the campus be safe to set foot on?

The CU Alerts, or Commonwealth University alerts, are a key component for campus safety. Stacy Wagner, the Associate Vice President of Facilities Management, is a part of the team behind the CU Alerts. She informed that several departments have access to the alerts on-campus, but mainly the BU Police, Marketing & Communications staff (MarComm), and herself access these signals.

Different types of precipitation call for different decisions to be made behind the mind of CU Alerts. Wagner specified, “If they have to make a closure, the decision would be made by 6 am. If a closure was needed after the campus was opened, they would close at any time throughout the day. If it is a safety alert, the campus police will send one out.”

Wagner talked openly about the university’s procedure to keep the campus safe during snow and ice weather, stating the university pays close attention to the weather forecast to get ideas on when they need to call in staff and ground crews. 

One of the most common sights on campus is the salt scattered across the sidewalks and other areas continuously passed through. According to Wagner, the on-campus maintenance crew orders an estimated one hundred tons of salt, and 10 to 20 pellets of ice melt each year. 

The walkway to the Student Service Center is snow free. Photo by Caleb Brown.

The University Police play a large factor by calling in ground crews during treacherous weather forecasts when the weather is turning bad. Wagner followed with information about the custodians of the academic and other campus buildings. The crew operates in three shifts, and when the weather changes for the worst, they often keep entrances to the buildings open by shoveling or laying salt. 

How do students feel about the quality of work the university puts into keeping the campus free of ice and snow? Taylor Whiteneck, a microbiology student who lives on upper campus, believes the university performs an “okay job.” 

He went further elaborating the strategy observed, “If it’s a sidewalk and a small portion of the road, especially in parking lot areas, they have one strip they do in the center. If there is anything off to the sides, they don’t touch it.”

Alison Diehl, is a Secondary Education student who is pursuing English. Diehl believes, “The university does a pretty good job with the snow and ice removal.”  She is aware frequently when staff is out throwing salt down to prepare ahead of time.