Let’s break the ice

Student ice tragedies and the reason why Ferris State University never cancels classes

With the recent freezing rain and ice-covered sidewalks, many Ferris students like Haley Robinson have wondered why the Big Rapids campus never closes.

Ferris pre-diagnostic medical sonography freshman Haley Robinson slipped and fell on the ice 9:45 a.m. Monday Jan. 11,  severely injuring her hand.

Robinson was walking from one class to another when the incident happened.

“It was very icy, none of the sidewalks had any salt on them at all, and I was wearing snow boots with grips on the bottom,” Robinson said.  “I even filed an accident report.”

Robinson was not the only student to come forward saying they fell on the ice last week.

Ferris advertising and integrated marketing freshman Emily Hamner also slipped on the ice Monday night.

“I slid across the parking lot until reaching my car and fell while trying to open my door,” Hamner said. “After that, I was certain that Ferris was going to close because if they couldn’t even salt the sidewalks, the least they could do was close the campus in the morning or until it was safe to walk again.”

So, what does it take to get a snow day?

Dorothy Hart, a FLITE library assistant, who has been on this campus for 40 years between attending the university and as an employee, has seen Ferris close three times.

According to Hart, the first time was when she was attending Ferris. Students blocked off State Street, which used to be  the old 131 and partied. The second closure was due to an ice storm in the 90s and the third time was in 2013 because of a campus-wide power outage.

“I believe that if Ferris were to ever close it would be because the governor issued a statewide state of disaster,” Hart said.

According to the University Closing or Cancelling of Classes Policy, found on the Ferris website, the Big Rapids campus is a residential student campus and accordingly will almost always be open to students residing on campus.

The policy states that the University will cancel classes only under the most severe weather or other conditions, but does not state what those conditions are.

The policy also states that the President of the University or their designee is responsible for making the call for the Big Rapids campus, while decisions on weather related delays and closures at Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) are made by the President of KCAD or their designee.

The decision to cancel classes at KCAD are often made after the closure of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). In those cases, the class cancellation would also apply to the FSU-GR classes held at GRCC, according to the policy.

Many students at the Big Rapids campus commute, but according to Captain Jim Cook from the Department of Public Safety, there have not been any accidents reported in January due to weather conditions.