MU prepares for winter after last year's difficulties

Administrators have met to discuss how to better handle inclement weather.
Boone County received 20 inches of snow from the storm that hit the Midwest last February. MU’s staff has already taken steps to winter-proof the school for the upcoming winter season. Maneater File Photo

Students at MU prepare for the upcoming winter in many different ways. They can buy some new boots, a scarf or two and send their shorts and tank tops home.

MU’s staff have already taken steps to winter-proof the school.

“Last week we met and we brought in the police department, Res Life, Campus Dining Services, athletic department, hospital staff, Construction and Energy management and Parking and Transportation, among other departments,” Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said. “We all come together and talk about whose responsibility it is to take care of what.”

Because inclement weather can appear at any time, the university must plan ahead.

“Our plan is very extensive, and we plan in advance and we prepare as much as we can,” Seville said. “Once the weather starts to change, the plan kicks into action. Pete (Millier, the Director of Landscape Services) will call the necessary people, so groundskeepers and custodians might come in a few hours early and put ice melting chemicals down.”

One of the most important steps in the plan, Seville said, is to clear the hospital emergency room entrance as soon as possible.

The most important part of any plan is for the people in charge to remain in contact. To do that, administrators, including the chancellor and provost, will hold daily conference calls at noon to remain informed of the situation.

“Key personnel throughout the department remain in constant contact through email, phone and in-person throughout the duration of a winter weather emergency to respond to the immediate needs and safety of the students,” Residential Life Communications Manager Jill Fox said in an email.

If the weather remains a problem for a longer period of time, such as last year’s snowstorms, MU has a contract with the nearby Hampton Inn to reserve rooms for workers from out of Columbia.

“They aren’t able to get to town sometimes, so we’ll put them in hotel rooms if it’s a longer-term event and we need them on campus,” Seville said.

Rough winter weather can mean cancellation of classes, which is a decision made by the chancellor based a series of recommendations by Millier, the police department and Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Gary Ward.

These plans are null if the administration is unable to communicate with the students.

“We are able to quickly respond to developments in the weather situation and disseminate key messages across posters, emails, Facebook and Twitter,” Fox said.

Students on campus will not have to worry about food or other campus services shutting down in the event of a campus closure, as most Campus Dining Services will remain open.

“Having a meal is of utmost importance,” CDS Marketing Manager Michael Wuest said in an email. “Students will have options.”

Those options will not include retail outlets like the J Café, Catalyst Café, Mizzou Market — Central, Starbucks and the Wheatstone Bistro. The other two Mizzou Markets at Hitt Street and Southwest will remain open along with the student center’s dining locations.

All other residential dining halls will remain open, with the possible exception of Plaza 900 Emporium, Huckleberry’s, Rollins Late Night and Time Out, depending on staffing and need.

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