The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Commentary February 10, 2006

Icy pavement causes problems

Despite a balmy, spring-like January, Oberlin students are now facing the reality of a true winter in Northern Ohio. Walking to class has become a trial in more ways than just pulling ourselves out of our warm, comfy beds; it has become a battle not just to see whether our boots are truly waterproof or whether our mascara holds up to accosting snowflakes but whether we can even leave our dorm rooms without falling — hard. From the number of students taking spills on the ice, it is clear (in a way that our sidewalks are not) that the College is not doing enough to cope with the winter weather.

One Oberlin student with mobility issues was unable to leave his dorm over the weekend because pathways near his dorm were insufficiently cleared. Even when pathways are adequately plowed, the icy layer that remains can be even more treacherous, preventing students from using crutches or certain ambulatory devices to get to class — or preventing them from getting there at all.

Even for those of us whose boots have passed not only the waterproof test but the traction test as well, getting to class without falling in front of your latest crush or most prestigious professor is perhaps tougher than attempting a triple major in four years. But especially for those students with mobility issues, on crutches or in boots without good traction, walking — or scooting — to class has become a hazard.

We realize that Oberlin is fighting an unending war to keep snowdrifts and ice chunks at bay and that the College is trying. Crews come out around the time that night-owl Obies are heading to bed. But even their best efforts seem only to entice Ohio snow's retaliation, leaving paths that, while cleared, are impassably icy.

While some of us might wish for the College to give us snow days, we posit that most students simply want to get to class without a soaking bottom, deflated ego and painful bruises. The College must prioritize student safety and rectify this situation.

When we chose to attend Oberlin, we literally bought into the "one person can make a difference" admissions slogan. Some of us might even have known that snow is about as common in Oberlin as liberals. But we never counted on a College so inefficient at combating the snow that its own students cannot perform the basic student function of attending class.

With all of us Obies fighting against global warming, this snow is unlikely to go away soon. Therefore, it is imperative that the College takes immediate, effective measures to ensure that students can arrive safely to class, regardless of the weather outside. After all, the first step in making a difference is learning how to do so.


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