Buffalo State knee-deep in snow problems


Jonny Moran, Executive Editor

Three weeks into the new semester, winter has proven that it won’t go without a fight. Along with the typical hassles of beginning a new semester, students at SUNY Buffalo State have been struggling in the weather, finding many campus walkways obstructed by snow during class hours.

“We do have some relatively new personnel involved in snow removal and we’ve got some improvements to make, there’s no question about it,” said Director of Campus Services Terry Harding.

“I wasn’t even aware there was [any snow] removal. Getting from point A to point B has been horrible,” junior media production major Erick Perez said.

Senior arts and letters major Elizabeth Halstead thinks the Buffalo State administration needs to get started on snow well before students and faculty arrive to campus. “They should do it earlier in the morning so I’m not dodging cars at 7:30 a.m.”

Harding said that when it comes to dealing with snow storms on campus, timing is everything.

“We really only know 24-36 hours our what’s going to happen,” Harding said.

“The most convenient snow events happen during the evening and overnight when we can come in and clear things before the morning business begins. Any snow event that you have that begins either just before [classes begin] or during the workday, anywhere from 4 a.m. onward, in going to be an issue because once folks are here, you can’t plow as quickly or safely,” he said.

Harding said removing snow while school is open could be tricky, as snowplow drivers have to be careful not to hit people or cars. The grounds crew typically works Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Last semester, Buffalo State closed operations for three days as record snowfall hit parts of Western New York, but such a decision is rare. Harding said Campus Services along with neighboring college campuses are typically consulted about whether or not the campus should remain open during extreme weather events.

“It’s a storm-by-storm decision,” Harding said. “We have stayed open when everyone else closed, because we could, and we have closed when others stayed open”

He said that while keeping the school open is not always the most popular decision, it’s often the right one.

“You take far less criticism for closing when you could have remained open than you do opening when you could have closed,” he said.

“In the past 20 years, the business culture has been to stay open as much as possible. We’re here to provide services. Obviously we have students living on campus. We need to provide primary maintenance services to these people, so staying open is always our first choice if we can do it,” he said

Harding said the grounds crew consists of about ten people year-round, but when resources are low, his department requests assistance from the Residence Life Office.

“We don’t have the resources or staff to be all things to all people at all times in all places. If we did, we would be overstaffed,” he said.

By law, grounds employees may work no more than 16 hours per day, so scheduling them to provide service during days-long snow storms can be tricky. He said that just because the snow has stopped doesn’t mean their job is done.

“We’d conducted all our snow plowing and snow removal at least once if not several times in many areas throughout the night but the weather did not end there and the wind kept up and so forth. So we had some real tidiness issues — removing impediments for those who are physically challenged,” Harding said. “The policy is to remain as flexible as possible.”


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