You’re stranded upon a highway, becoming more nervous with each new layer of snow that covers the pavement.
Ahead, police officers are flagging drivers to move forward carefully around two cars in a ditch. Suddenly, as you move into another lane at a higher speed, your car slides and rams into another car. Late for class and with substantial damage to your car, you question whether it was the right decision to commute to school.
This is one situation of many that cause concern for students, faculty, university employees and family members as a decision to brave the weather is made. However, given the variety of circumstances in which Radford University’s associates and the city find themselves, this can prove difficult.
Joe Carpenter, vice president for University Relations and chief communications officer at RU places prevention as the number one concern during hazardous seasons. “The safety of Radford students, instructors, and university employees is paramount,” said Carpenter.
There are no certainties with weather, however, certain precautions are placed to predict cause and effect. According to Carpenter, three main groups at Radford collect data and make decisions.
The first organization is the Office of Emergency Preparedness, which has subscriptions to weather services. According to Carpenter, when further information is needed, the OEP contacts regional and state planning offices for guidance.
Because police officers are often required to be on scene before and during dangerous situations, the university also reaches out to the university and local police departments if necessary.
For a direct link to the state of campus, Facilities Management also gathers data involved with the current and potential weather. “They are responsible for keeping sideways and roadways clear,” said Carpenter. In addition, this department looks at commuters, faculty and employees at RU to ensure they’re able to travel as safely as possible.
Nearby colleges such as Virginia Tech are also contacted in order to further prepare Radford University. Since this university is particularly close, officials at RU are aware of the connections of its personnel with Virginia Tech. “We may have folks at Radford who have spouses or friends who work there,” said Carpenter.
Once RU feels confident with their decision, it’s relayed through the appropriate channels. The information is immediately forwarded to all personnel . “University Relations sends email to faculty, employees, social media and local media,” said Carpenter.
With the prediction of at least eight inches of snow for the Radford region, Carpenter stated yesterday was a good example of how the University dissects and reacts to information. “We were given 24 hours in advance, so we monitored what could happen and predict what might arrive,” said Carpenter. Radford subsequently decided to delay opening until 11 a.m.
According to Carpenter, the decision was made that morning and then dispensed afterwards. “We knew there wasn’t going to be additional snow, so Radford then estimated how long it would take to clear everything,” said Carpenter. For the sheer amount of students who commute from distant locations, commuter safety was a major factor in the decision.
Once this information is made available to as many as possible, the university then figures out how to recover. Clearing roadways and sidewalks is essential during this process.
Especially during the latter part of each semester —when preparation for final exams occurs —the need to attend class might cause students to risk their well-being.
Radford University is all too aware of this possibility, and has forces in place to ensure safety is upheld.