Ice creates more challenges


Mary-Lynn Retassie

Senior John Knox walks past freshman dorms Feb. 22 on his way to Willow Hall. Weather conditions are getting better after several people reported falling on icy sidewalks last week.

Alyssa Coleman, News Editor

Weather conditions have some Pitt-Johnstown community members concerned for their safety.

An online petition started Jan. 29 urging administrators to cancel classes the next day circulated among the Pitt-Johnstown community, and by the next morning it had around 2,800 signatures, including those of parents and students from other colleges.

Administrators, however, kept campus open.  Free hot chocolate was offered, courtesy of President Jem Spectar, for those who chose to attend classes.

Some students said they were angry over how administrators handled the situation, and since the petition circulated, administrators have closed campus three times.

Freshman Dannah Robosson, who commutes to campus from Pleasantville (Bedford County), said administrators don’t think about commuters enough.

“I feel like (administrators) are thinking more about those who live on campus than those of us who commute,” Robosson said.

“I’ll drive to campus, and the roads won’t be plowed or salted, but campus will remain open.”

Robosson said one day when she tried coming to campus, her car slid on Schoolhouse Road and spun.

“Last semester, I did stay at a friend’s dorm one night because I was afraid to drive home,” she said. 

“But my car ended up getting snowed-in by a plow truck in the parking lot across from the (John P. Murtha Center).

“I had to go in and ask someone for help getting it out.”

Faculty and staff members also said they have concerns regarding their safety as well as student safety.

Associate Professor Marissa Landrigan, who lives in Pittsburgh, said she has canceled classes before due to weather and road conditions.

“I have canceled classes for my own safety before, but I also try to listen to students and monitor the weather not only in Pittsburgh, but also Richland Township,” Landrigan said.  

“If I’m receiving emails from students about the weather and asking if we still have class, I’ll cancel for their safety.

“The worst part of my commute is always here in Richland Township,” she said.

“The weather is usually worse here than in Pittsburgh, so I take that into consideration as well.”

Landrigan said that although administrators canceling class can be disruptive to schedules, she understands the need to do so.

“It is difficult when you have to change your schedules to fit in all the material, but I understand why (administrators) choose to cancel.

“They’re looking out for everyone.”

Librarian Sarah Harris said on Sunday night she had to stay in the library overnight because of the ice on the roads and sidewalks.

“I decided to stay because when I looked outside, there was a group of four guys slipping and falling on their hands and knees,” Harris said.

“The ice outside made the snow look like a lake.

“I only live in Ferndale, but I don’t trust (Richland Township) to salt the roads.

“I also live on a big hill, and it’s difficult to drive on during the winter.”

Harris said she asked Owen Library director Peter Egler whether she could stay, and when he told her she was allowed, she notified campus police.

 “One officer I spoke with fell a few times as well,” she said.  

“I worked on a personal project of mine for a few hours before finally trying to sleep,” Harris said.

“I finally went home around 4 in the morning when I noticed the sidewalks were finally salted.”

Harris said administrators could do more regarding salting and clearing sidewalks and parking lots.

“In the past with snow, sometimes a parking lot is cleared at 10:30 in the morning, (but) sometimes they’re just starting,” Harris said.

“It should be done sooner for those who have to be here before then.”

She said Richland Township officials could take care of the roads better, especially after Richland Township supervisors announced a rock salt shortage.

Instructor F.J. Hartland said when he was teaching at Pitt-Johnstown 25 years ago, campus closed only once when an electric transformer blew up on campus.

“I do think campus has been closing a lot lately, but it is very wise (administrators) are using caution,” he said.

“It makes life difficult, but it is good (administrators) are looking out for students.”

Hartland said even though he only lives a few minutes away from campus, he has canceled classes before due to weather and road conditions.

“I take my students’ safety into consideration if the roads are bad.

“I wouldn’t cancel class and if a student would get hurt or killed on the way here,” Hartland said. “I would have to live with that guilt.”

“(Pitt-Johnstown) isn’t worth dying for,” philosophy professor Martin Rice said Friday.