During a winter storm, everything is a team effort. The decision to close operations and facilities is made by a committee of college administrators, including Communications Director Michael Graca.
“The primary consideration for canceling classes and scheduled activities is safety,” said Graca. There are a number of unpredictable variables that must be taken into account, including whether the Grounds Department will be able to keep up with the rate of snowfall and the projected availability of faculty and staff.
Snow removal is also a cooperative effort. Wheaton College employs 13 groundskeepers plus five carpenters for a grand total of 18 snow team members. “Everywhere is a top priority,” said Steve Kelly, manager of the Grounds Department. At any given time, there are 10 snow plowing routes going simultaneously to clear up as much of campus as possible.
It’s not just the dorms that need shoveling. Wheaton also owns 40 other properties surrounding the campus, including houses on Pine Street, Elm Street and Mansfield Avenue. If 10 of the 18 members of the snow team staff are operating vehicles, that only leaves eight staff members to shovel stairs and sidewalks on all properties affiliated with the school.
Hazardous weather conditions also require the cooperation of students. Both Kelly and Director of Public Safety Christopher Santiago stress the importance of the parking ban on campus. The more students comply with the ban, the easier and faster it is to get snow out of the way.
With the recent warm weather, it may seem like the time for blizzard warnings is over, but one can never be too cautious. Graca said, “I would never want to predict New England weather. It’s too changeable. Not so long ago, we had a snowstorm on April 1.”
When asked for concluding remarks, Kelly said, “The snow team does a phenomenal job. They work tirelessly and I’m proud of all their efforts.”