Campus News

Winter weather’s effects on Campus Safety

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If you’ve stepped outside your front door recently, you’ve probably felt freezing temperatures, trudged through piles of snow and sat in your frozen car awaiting the ice to thaw and normal human temperatures to return. DSC02205 Yes, folks, winter is sadly once again upon us. And while the majority of us hide under our blankets awaiting warmer weather, several dedicated individuals at Campus Safety are working 24/7 in order to keep us safe and warm. One of those individuals is Director of Campus Safety Paul Neel, who has been working at Bethel College for 19 years and clearly desires to create a safe environment for those living on Bethel. “Campus safety exists to create a safe environment for everyone to work, live, learn and grow and do what they’re here at Bethel College to do,” said Neel. As they strive to fulfill this overall mission statement, officers’ specific duties change depending on the season. “We’re involved with notifying the grounds and maintenance department when conditions are getting a little rough and need snow removal; pointing out areas that maybe are a little slick and things similar to that,” Neel said. However, aside from the obvious tasks of snow removal, there is one duty Neel shared, that the majority of people on campus may not be aware of, but should be entirely thankful for. “One of the big things that I think probably a lot of folks don’t know is over the Christmas break when everyone goes home we check almost all the dorms and housing where people aren’t staying,” he said. “Any places that are empty we check them at least twice a day just to make sure that the heat stays on so that the pipes don’t break and there’s not water running so nothing gets damaged and that they’re locked up and everything stays safe.” If this task was not taken care of every winter break, cold weather could begin to take its toll on the buildings. “This happened a number of years ago when campus safety had an incident at a college on house where the house didn’t get checked for several days and there was a furnace problem, pipes broke, house kind of flooded,” Neel said. Once students all return from winter break, the major question on everyone’s mind suddenly becomes, when will the snow days begin? When I asked Neel about his role in the snow day decision making, he stated, “Yes, we have a small part in that, there’s several people that usually are involved in the discussion. It’ll start early; sometimes those decisions get rolling at 4:30 or 5 in the morning between the vice president, maintenance and grounds staff. Can we realistically get the stuff out of the way and then do we feel it’s safe and then what is the rest of the community doing; are there any travel bans?” So, aside from plowing snow and calling off school, what else keeps Campus Safety busy during the winter? “We get a lot more jump start calls, people with weak or bad batteries,” said Neel. “Sometimes we have students that their cars have sat for weeks or more and then they realize their cars won’t start. We’ll get some vehicle lock outs, usually it’s for people who lock their keys in the car. This time of the year sometimes the doors actually freeze and then they’ll call us. We haven’t had much snow yet but once in a while they’ll get stuck and need a push or we’ll get some of the maintenance folks and go shovel if someone needs to be undug.” While Campus Safety enjoys helping and serving those on campus, there are still some certain things that Neel wishes students were more aware of. “Proper footwear and simply being mindful,” he said. “Run your car every once in a while to make sure that it’ll start for you and clean the snow all the way off your car, even if you’re just running to the Acorn.” Although it may seem as though Campus Safety has it all together and has mastered the art of managing winter, they too sometimes have snow getting the best of them. “A few years ago, Campus Safety vehicles got themselves stuck in the snow,” he remembered. “That was kind of embarrassing, and maintenance had to help us out with that.” I guess in the end it does not matter how comfortable you are with snow or how much time you spend pushing it around; in one form or another it will blow into our lives creating chaos and then leave just as quickly as it came. But, we can rest assured knowing that Bethel has a dedicated team of individuals ready to brave the storm; keeping us all safe and warm.
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