Snow brings more campus cancellations and higher costs than previous years

Since December, South Dakota has witnessed a series of major winter storms that have dumped feet of snow across the state. Sioux Falls has received more than 44 inches of snow so far, making for costly campus maintenance and cleanup.

“The dollars spent this year to date are about double what we have in our current budget,” Augustana CFO and executive vice president Shannan Nelson said.

According to Nelson, the main winter costs come from snow removal, sidewalk and parking lot treatments, and normal winter repairs like ice build-up and snow on roofs.

The accumulation of snow on the sidewalks and in the parking lots has been a major inconvenience to people around campus, Nelson said.

According to President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, keeping 28th Street clear has been an issue at times, but student walkways are prioritized for clearing before anything else.

“We try to prioritize the safety of the areas where we know the students who live on campus will be going,” Herseth Sandlin said.

According to Herseth Sandlin, Augustana had to accommodate for more delays and closures this year than normal, but since the pandemic, online programs make cancellations easier to manage. 

Students walk around campus sidewalks in February while it snows. Photo by Olivia Bertino.

Winter weather has also brought heating issues and a lack of hot water in some of the dorms.

“One of the biggest challenges in East Hall was the lack of hot water,” junior Vedant Thakkar, a resident of East Hall, said. “There was no hot water in East for five days during the winter break.”

Residents of Granskou Hall encountered heating issues at the beginning of winter. Residence life staff were quick to provide the residents with space heaters, but those did not stand much of a chance against South Dakotan winters.

“There have been issues with the heating units in Granskou,” sophomore Deepak Krishnaa Govindarajan, a Granskou resident, said. “I returned from class only to find my room freezing cold. People on my floor have faced similar issues.” 

Residents of Stavig Hall also reported heating problems.

“The heating unit in my room was not working,” freshman Aishworya Limbu, a Stavig resident, said. “Even after repeatedly calling the people in charge, nothing was done. I ended up living in my friend’s room for the majority of the break. I don’t know what I would have done if she wasn’t there.” 

Augustana has also seen a rise in the number of vehicle accidents around campus this winter.

“With the large amount of snow received so far this year, we have experienced an increase in motor vehicle accidents around the campus,” Rick Tupper, associate vice president for campus safety and logistics, said. “Some of this can be attributed to the narrowing of streets and limited visibility due to snow piles.” 

While Herseth Sandlin said this year was not too out of the ordinary in terms of winter maintenance, spring could bring flooding challenges if snow melts too quickly.

“If we have a super fast flood, we’ll end up with a problem in the retention pond,” Herseth Sandlin said.

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