According the Physical Plant, Ferris spent $93,052 on snow removal in 2014.
The Physical Plant employs 150 full-time faculty members and 100 part-time student workers.
Since most are familiar with Michigan’s unpredictable weather, classes at Ferris and most Michigan universities are seldom cancelled or delayed. Ferris’ inclement weather policy indicates that classes are cancelled “only under the most severe weather or other conditions.” The decision to cancel classes can only be made by President Eisler or someone he designates to do so.
“Cancellation decisions are made independent of what other colleges and universities – guided by their own unique policy and weather circumstances – decide,” Sandy Gholston, Ferris’ News Services and Social Media Manager said. “There are many factors to consider, relative to weather class cancellations, including the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We’re mindful that we have thousands of students living on or near main campus as well as commuters traveling from greater distances.”
One such commuter is Paul Darnton, a senior English education major who lives in Bitely, Michigan. Darnton and his wife Bailey Darnton, another Ferris student, commute about 25 miles from Bitely to Big Rapids for class. On this particular day, the temperature was below zero.
“Some days, it takes us an hour to get here,” Darnton said. “I know that a lot of students live on campus, so they can like, skate to class. But a lot of us are commuters and I feel we should be given some consideration.”
Darnton said that many of his professors are sympathetic when it comes to road conditions. And indeed, some professors have even given extra credit on days of harsh weather. However, there are still professors that follow strict attendance policies.
“I’m sure the University is doing what it can and trying to be sympathetic, but at a certain point when you have these low temperatures, the school should consider the health of the students,” Darnton said.
Regarding Ferris’ rare cancellation of class, Gholston said, “Most often, we hold classes and encourage students, faculty and staff to make good judgments in terms of their personal safety.”
Jessica Wheatley, a junior in Music Industry Management, lives in Reed City, about 13 miles north of Big Rapids.
“Somedays, it’s detrimental to the student to try to get to class,” Wheatley said. “If classes aren’t cancelled and students still can’t make it, they’re missing out on information in class that they’re paying for.”
Ferris’ Physical Plant maintains all campus grounds and facilities. This includes plowing and salting approximately 820,000 square feet of campus sidewalks. In addition to snow removal, the Physical Plant handles custodial services, mail, waste management and approximately $20 million a year in construction.
Ferris offers emergency and weather alerts via text message, social media and ferris.edu. To find out about the status of classes or information on emergencies, all the University’s information hotline at (231) 591-5602.