Cold shock: A messy start to DePaul’s winter quarter

Heavy snowfall and a polar vortex created a nasty recipe for the start of DePaul’s winter quarter. Freezing temperatures and endless travel delays caused a messy start to the year.

DePaul canceled classes and closed campuses Monday, Jan. 6, but re-opened the next day despite continued sub-zero temperatures. The snow caused no problems for the university, however the cold weather caused two wet piping breaks totaling up to approximately $95,000 in repairs, according to Bob Janis, vice president of facility operations.

One break occurred at the CDM building in the Loop in the corridor near the loading dock on the east end of the building where a frozen sprinkler line popped and caused flooding. Two staff members were temporarily shifted to other offices upstairs and no classes were disrupted, Janis said.

The second break at the new Theatre Building happened right after Christmas and required facility operations to dry out and repair some back house basement areas, he said. Janis estimated the damages at The Theatre School costing about $70,000 and at the CDM building less than $25,000, minus in-house labor team costs.

The Theatre School repairs were completed about a week ago and the repairs in the CDM building are “in progress and will be done soon,” Janis said.

On Sunday, Jan. 5 Chicago O’Hare’s airport recorded 8.7 inches of snow adding to the total of 19.9 inches for 2014. Then, on Monday, Jan. 6 the recorded average temperature was minus 9 degrees without wind chill, according to the National Weather Service Forecast Office.

Despite heavy rain and flood warnings Friday, Jan. 10, there were no flooding issues at any university buildings.

Jan. 6 was the first day since the 2011 blizzard in February that DePaul cancelled a full day of classes. Some faculty still cancelled their classes the next day due to the rough travel conditions and weather.

Marcia Good, a visiting assistant professor of anthropology, commutes from northwestern Indiana and cancelled her Tuesday classes despite the university reopening.

“The conditions in northwestern Indiana were terrible on Tuesday and I did not feel it was safe to drive,” Good said. “I did not know how bad it was in Chicago for the decision makers at DePaul so I did not second guess their decision to open on Tuesday.”

Good was able to adjust her plan for one class to make the first day resources available online for students.

“I sent the syllabus, online versions of two articles and a series of questions for viewing of [a] film,” Good said. “I was pleasantly surprised how well prepared students were for discussion of the materials (Thursday) in class.”

Good’s global health course was more difficult to make up because “students are an active part of deciding the course themes from a set of module,” she said. “[Thursday] was very full, but I feel we are on target.”

After days of airline delays and cancellations, many students and faculty experienced difficulties flying in and out of Chicago.

Mark Grossi, a DePaul freshman, was scheduled to arrive at Chicago O’Hare Saturday, Jan. 4. After multiple canceled flights, Grossi finally flew out of North Carolina Tuesday, Jan. 7 in the morning despite another hour delay.

With the weather conditions last week, Grossi said he believes more classes should have been canceled.

“I think classes should have been cancelled Tuesday as well, from my understanding the weather conditions were the exact same as Monday,” Grossi said. “I understand the need to stay on schedule but it was still dangerous for people to commute.”