Colm Craig

Equinox Staff


Here at Keene State College, as many returning students know, snow and “inclement weather” are a regular part of the second semester experience.

Due to the frequent possibility of adverse conditions, the college has created a policy regarding procedures to be taken in the event of bad weather, known as the Inclement Weather Policy.

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As a student, knowing how and when to check for class cancellations or curtailed operations is a necessity, unless one wishes to make a miserable snowy trek to a cancelled class.

According to the Inclement Weather Policy, “Decisions on curtailed operations will be made by 6 a.m. for morning closings and by 2 p.m. for evening closings.”

This gives students plenty of time to check for notices of the curtailed operations that will appear on the KSC home page, as a MyKSC email, on local radio/TV announcements, and by a news announcement on MyKSC.

There are, however, cases when the college has not issued a notice of curtailed operations, but the weather is poor enough to cause concern for commuting professors and students. In this case, the MyKSC email system or Blackboard announcements are typically the most reliable source for information concerning individual cancellations. There is also a posting of individual class cancellations that can be found under the Campus Bookmarks tab on the MyKSC homepage.

The last line of notification will be found on the door of the classroom in the form of a class cancellation sheet indicating the course name, number, and professor of the cancelled class.

Given that the wording of the policy leaves the decision of choosing what conditions are considered too hazardous for driving to the best discretion of the student, it seems reasonable that some instances of disagreement between professors and students could occur regarding the legitimacy of an absence.

According to the Chair of the Journalism, Communication and Philosophy Dept., Dr. Ann Atkinson, in the instance that school was not curtailed, cases of commuters missing class due to weather is not all that common; she has only had a handful of instances since she began teaching at KSC in 2001.

She went on to say that she “never had a conflict with a student involving inclement weather, however the students who did have to miss class due to weather-related issues have always taken the responsibility to email me in regard to their situation.”

When asked what advice she would give to students regarding the harsh weather typical of second semester, she said, “I would recommend that students are as responsible as possible attending class regularly to avoid problems with classes missed due to weather.”

Furthermore, she stressed that “communication with your professor is important” and it is best to “let them know where you are and what your situation is.”

Sandra Garcia, a student and commuter to KSC, who has a 19 mile, 35 minute commute, voiced many of the same sentiments. During her time attending KSC, Sandra has encountered several days of weather that either made her late for class or that she decided were too dangerous in which to commute.

When asked how she and her professors handled the excusing of absences, Sandra’s reply fit right in with Atkinson’s advice, “I usually write an email explaining the reason for my absence. I also try to keep my absences to a minimum, so that is usually not a problem.”

Therefore, if you have a question or concern about the weather the best solution is good communication with your professor, and keeping an eye out on the KSC website for announcements of campuswide cancellations.

What goes into a decision to close the campus however, may be more than many students realize. Assistant Director of the Physical Plant, Bud Winsor, and his team monitor potential storms far in advance using DTN, or Data Transmission Network, an advanced weather forecasting system. DTN gives them detailed forecasts and even ground temperatures.

They use this information in conjunction with N.H. Department of Transportation reports on road conditions to determine the severity of upcoming weather conditions. Winsor’s advice regarding the safety of the weather conditions is given by 5 a.m. to the vice president of the college who works with the president to finalize a decision on the day’s operations.

The final decision for curtailed operations is usually not decided until the morning of the cancelled activities, but for Winsor and his crew, preparations for a storm begin long before the first snowflakes touch the ground.

Prior to any expected icy conditions or snowfall, the walkways and roads on campus are treated with ICE BAN. ICE BAN is a natural, biodegradable, and non-corrosive substance made mostly from a by-product of the beer brewing process.

The by-product creates a brown molasses-like coating on the ground that prevents snow and ice from sticking to the ground or freezing. This coating allows Winsor and his team to easily plow away slush that would have otherwise been dangerous ice or troublesome, hard-packed snow. Even with the ICE BAN pretreatment, accidents can still happen; therefore, Winsor recommends that, “all students should wear proper footwear, and give the snow machinery a wide berth or 10-20 ft.”


Colm Craig can be contacted at


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