Students lobbing snowballs in the Quad weren’t complaining when DePaul University closed its campuses Monday while most other universities in the city remained open.
Mounds of snow lined the mostly plowed walkways on the Lincoln Park campus after Sunday’s blizzard set the record for Chicago’s fifth largest snowstorm. The National Weather Service recorded 19.3 inches of snow at O’Hare International Airport Monday morning.
The university issued an alert at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday just as the Super Bowl began notifying students the university would be closed all day Monday. The only other Chicago-area university to close Monday was Northeastern Illinois University.
A team of 30 of the university’s regular grounds staff and overnight custodians worked through the night to clear the snow, Vice President of Facility Operations Bob Janis said. Staff worked from 5 a.m. Sunday morning until 9 p.m. Sunday night, and again from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday morning on overtime.
“While our crews have kept up with the snowfall and our campuses were in good shape Sunday afternoon, the side streets in the surrounding neighborhoods were still snow-packed with several cars stuck,” Janis said in a release Sunday evening. “The suburban areas, where many of our faculty and staff live, have similar conditions.”
Crews will continue working Tuesday to remove snow buildup on campus and prepare for future snowfall by removing excess snow, Janis said. Gene Zdziarski, Vice President of Student Affairs, stopped by the Quad Monday afternoon to see what students were up to and said safety was a concern for people traveling to campus using streets other than the main roadways.
“The main streets are in good shape,” Zdziarski said, “(but) many of the side streets in neighborhoods throughout the city are really socked in.”
“If we had not closed the students would have encountered classes half empty and classes canceled,” Janis said. “We had a number of professors call in through (Sunday) afternoon to Public Safety asking them to post notices on classroom doors about their classes being canceled.”
Loyola University Chicago issued warnings for delayed oncampus transportation Sunday. However, they did not cancel Monday classes, and services were running in time for classes Monday morning.
Emily Van, a Loyola senior, said students were annoyed they were only told via Facebook and Twitter the university would remain open, but that the decision to stay open wasn’t a bad one.
Van said she had no problems getting to campus besides a minor bus delay. Similar to DePaul, Loyola has a high number of commuter students, and Van said that about half of the students from one of her classes were not in class.
“From what I’ve heard, people didn’t have issues if they lived on campus getting to class,” Van said.
Columbia College was also open Monday but utilized a delayed start by canceling all classes starting before 10 a.m. Drew Lodarek, a junior at Columbia, said there was only one student was absent from his class today.
“I live a few blocks from school, so the commute wasn’t bad. But the sheer amount of snow on the sidewalks did make it more difficult,” Lodarek said.
Lodarek said most college students would like to have the day off, but they would have to make up the work regardless.
“We have an obligation to go to school anyway so we would either be behind or have to make up extra work if it was canceled,” Lodarek said. “People seemed to have taken a pretty mature approach to the situation.”
At DePaul, it goes without saying that most students were excited to have the day off. Ranna Patel, a senior at DePaul who was home in Naperville for the weekend, said with the conditions her commute would have been difficult.
“I was surprised because DePaul never cancels classes,” Patel said.
The university last closed Jan. 6, 2014, the first day of Winter Quarter last year, due to dangerous temperatures.
DePaul freshman acting majors Kiah Stern and Delaney Feener spent some of their afternoon in the Quad building a snowman.
Neither Stern, a California native, nor Feener from Portland, Wash. had ever had a snow day. After watching Netflix in the morning, Stern said she “figured I should do something snowy.”
“It’s like a make-up day,” Feener said. “We have another day to study or we have another day to give ourselves a break. It’s a day to do the things you never have time for.”