Jessica Stoll, a first-year international business student, said she probably spends about two hours every day walking to class.
Lately, those hours have been spent in sub-zero temperatures.
Stoll, a Wisconsin native who called the recent weather “painful,” said the University should cancel class when the mercury dips into the teens below zero, as it did Thursday.
“It doesn’t make much sense since we have to walk outside more in college,” Stoll said. “There’s a real danger in frostbitten toes, so it would make sense, at least to me, to call off class.”
Despite the cold, University officials said they will not shut down campus anytime soon. According to the University’s Emergency Closing Policy, there is no set windchill, temperature or snowfall amount to mandate a closing.
When weather temperatures are extreme, Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien consults a number of people about the safety of keeping the University open, said Lori-Anne Williams, University Services communications director.
Among those are officials in Emergency Management, Parking and Transportation Services and Facilities Management, Williams said.
The final decision to close the University is usually made before 6 a.m. by Executive Vice President and Provost Christine Maziar.
“It’s so extreme to close the University when there are so many staff and people that rely on our services every day,” Williams said.
“We don’t want to pose a danger to our staff but we also want to be open,” she said. “Our students pay to be here.”
Bob Baker, director of University Parking and Transportation Services, said the ability to run buses on time and remove snow from parking lots are important factors in deciding if the University should remain open.
Baker said snowfall amount plus temperature and wind chill factors are also taken into consideration, but he added, “We’re Minnesotans. We know how to dress for this.”
Baker said he is trying to help students by installing more heaters into bus shelters. Six are operational campus-wide. They typically cost $12,000 to $15,000 apiece, Baker said.
According to University Archives and Department of Natural Resources records, the Twin Cities campuses have not closed because of cold since Jan. 18, 1994, under a statewide order from then-Gov. Arne Carlson.
Climatologist readings at the National Weather Service documented temperatures of 30 degrees below zero that day, according to the DNR Web site.