Time to review winter weather policies, issues

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of a small bulldozer scraping snow from the sidewalk in front of Sangren Hall.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Michigan weather can change suddenly, with snow or ice quickly building up and creating hazards for both pedestrians and motorists.

That means this time of year is a good time to review Western Michigan University's closure policy, snow- and ice-removal procedures, and safe-walking tips.

University closures

WMU rarely closes due to inclement weather, so always assume it is open.

During the past 18 years, the University has only been closed for 16 days due to weather. When it does close, regardless of the reason, the closure is announced on:

  • The WMU home page at wmich.edu.
  • The WMU Alert system (available only to student, faculty and staff subscribers).
  • Area radio and television stations.
  • The WMU emergency information phone line at (269) 387-1001.

When the University's campuses in Kalamazoo close, the WMU-Battle Creek regional location as well as the College of Aviation in Battle Creek also close. The status of the University's six other regional locations will vary due to conditions in their individual areas.

In the event of a weather closure, all events on the University events calendar at wmich.edu/news/events will be marked as canceled. Areas hosting events that will continue despite a weather closure should notify the Office of University Relations by sending an email to university-relations@wmich.edu.

To review WMU's Closure Policy, visit wmich.edu/policies/closure. To learn if a regional location is closed, visit the Extended University Programs Web page at wmich.edu/extended.

Snow, ice removal

Photo of an empty campus sidewalk being covered over by drifting snow.

WMU's snow removal crews must plow, shovel, scrape and de-ice more than 26 miles of roads and 120 acres of parking lots, 39 miles of walks, hundreds of doorways, and 200,000 square feet of steps and ramps.

Plow schedules cover snow and ice removal activities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Providing there is not a major storm, most main campus areas will be clear of snow and ice before the majority of students and employees arrive each day.

Snow and ice removal schedules can be adjusted to accommodate special mobility needs as well as weekend and other special activities, although as much advance notice as possible of activities is encouraged. For the speediest response, note that:

  • All snow removal needs and requests for special activities or weekend events should go to landscape services in the Department of Facilities Management. These messages should be conveyed via a Facility Event Service Request form or by calling (269) 387-8514.
  • Accommodation requests related to mobility issues as well as reports of unsafe areas should be directed to the facilities management Service Center at (269) 387-8514.
  • Snow- and ice-removal questions or concerns after normal business hours should be directed to the WMU Department of Public Safety at (269) 387-5555.

The annual WMU Snow Book contains detailed information about when, where and how landscape services will clear the campus of snow and ice. To read this year's Snow Book, visit wmich.edu/facilities/landscape/snow-removal.

Walking in winter

Photo of students walking down a partially snow-covered sidewalk that is lined on one side by a row of snow-covered trees.

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety reminds students and employees that slips and falls due to ice and snow are the most common injury-causing incidents on campus during the winter months.

For that reason, the Union Management Safety Committee has published online some helpful hints and guidelines for being safe while traversing campus in winter. The PDF document covers a variety of topics that although commonsensical, are often overlooked when people are inattentive, in a hurry or overly concerned about their outward appearance.

As an example, the tips regarding attire may be useful to younger students on their own for the first time as well as domestic and international students who are unfamiliar with Michigan winters. Meanwhile, a friendly reminder to slow down or even "walk like a penguin" might be appreciated by colleagues rushing into work and could even prevent a slip and fall that results in a broken bone.

To view the Winter Safety Tips PDF, visit the environmental health and safety office website at wmich.edu/ehs/links. For more information, call the office at (269) 387-5590.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.