Winter cold front brings concern for campus, student safety

Various campus entities work together to clear snow and ice from campus sidewalks. (Sean Schaper | The Collegian)

Winter gripped its freezing claws around the city of Manhattan with temperature lows dropping into the negatives. Heavy precautions are being taken in and around the Kansas State campus to enhance the safety of students and Manhattanites.

Casey Lauer, assistant vice president in engineering, utilities and maintenance, said it takes a team effort to make sure the streets, sidewalks and building steps are properly prepared for any cold weather front that may come to campus.

“Generally speaking, the emergency manager for KSU issues an update in advance of winter weather outlining the potential for snow and ice,” Lauer said. “Once the conditions warrant the need for removal, the campus police department contact Tim Brunner to respond with the intention of making streets passable.”

Brunner, steam and chilled water management plant manager, coordinates with others in facilities to respond to clearing campus sidewalks, building entrances and steps.

While Brunner is responsible for the campus heating plant and coordinates snow removal activities, Brett Robinson, landscape services superintendent, takes responsibility for snow removal on sidewalks, ramps and grounds.

Among the team are other members who also contribute to keeping students safe during these conditions, including Linda Craghead, custodial director, and Diana Hutchison, planning, project and space management director. Craghead is responsible for snow removal from building entrances and Hutchison is in charge of construction activity on campus.

“We are never sad to see winter turn to spring, especially with late events occurring into March,” Lauer said.

Depending on the winter weather, the team may treat areas with brine in advance, or they may respond to remove snow or ice and treat slick spots with salt.

Similar to on-campus, the City of Manhattan pre-treats certain streets and sidewalks by priority levels.

However, not all sidewalks and streets are maintained, leaving some students struggling to commute to their first week of in-person classes.

“It’s dangerous for students to be walking in these conditions especially when we have Zoom options,” Makaila Astle, sophomore in nutrition and kinesiology, said.

Annie Wehling, sophomore in human development and family science, comes from Texas and said driving on ice is something she has little experience with.

“Many people have spun out in front of me just this semester due to the ice,” Wehling said.

For others, it’s not the drive that worries them.

“Some students don’t have the option to drive, and it may be up to a 20 to 30 minute walk for some students, which can be very dangerous as frostbite can be caught very quickly in sub-zero temperatures,” Sarah Gulledge, sophomore in secondary education, said.

When K-State makes inclement weather-related decisions, the first consideration is public safety. If reports from public safety officials indicate the majority of students, faculty and staff can travel to and from campus safely, classes are likely to remain in session.

A map of Manhattan street snow treatment can be found on the City of Manhattan website.

My name is Sean Schaper, and I'm the news editor for the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism with a secondary focus in film studies. I grew up right outside of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas. As a first-generation K-Stater, I look forward to leaving behind accurate coverage for the current and future Wildcat community.