No business like snow business

How Quinnipiac adjusts to winter weather

By on March 5, 2019

Emily DiSalvo | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
No matter how old we get, the euphoria and excitement of receiving a “snow day” phone call or text message will never die.

This winter at Quinnipiac is no different. For students, snow days are a chance to sleep in, sip hot chocolate, binge-watch their favorite shows and maybe get into a few snowball fights. For the staff of Quinnipiac Dining and facilities, however, a snow day is far from a day off.

In an informal survey conducted by The Quinnipiac Chronicle with 99 participants:

  • 70 respondents said Quinnipiac facilities does an adequate job with snow and ice removal, while 29 said Quinnipiac facilities does not do an adequate job.
  • 69 respondents said Quinnipiac Dining provides enough food options during weather-related school cancellations and delays, while 30 said it does not.
  • 51 respondents said they are negatively affected by Quinnipiac Dining’s snow day hours of operation, while 48 said they are not.
  • 54 respondents said Quinnipiac Dining’s snow day hours of operation changes their regular meal times, while 45 respondents said it does not.

Thanks to Quinnipiac Dining, students never have to worry about running out of food in their dorms or missing a meal.

According to Director of Dining Services Leean Spalding, Quinnipiac Dining assesses each forecast and develops an appropriate plan to make sure Cafe Q can remain up and running as the snow falls down.

“Quinnipiac Dining provides motel rooms for our associates to stay overnight to ensure they can get home or into work safely,” Spalding said. “Public Safety provides transportation to and from the campus to the motel rooms.”

Spalding maintains that Quinnipiac Dining always tries to minimize any changes in the schedules if possible, but when the school is closed, it usually runs on a weekend schedule as students tend to adjust their eating habits to brunch and dinner.

“We always open the Cafe Q at 7:15 a.m. to provide breakfast for the essential personnel on campus,” Spalding says.

But just because the Quinnipiac Dining remains open during inclement weather, don’t count on your daily iced caramel macchiato or venti strawberry refresher.

“We close any dining facilities that are not essential such as Au Bon Pain Express, Starbucks and North Haven Cafe when school is closed,” Spalding warned.

Quinnipiac Dining also tries to take precautions as far in advance as possible when the weather forecast appears to be threatening.

“Our production team reviews the food deliveries and may order extra food prior to the storm, anticipating we do not get some deliveries due to poor road conditions,” Spalding said. “ We are fortunate that Cafe Q has a generator so we usually do not have to close due to power outages.”

And while Cafe Q will be able to withstand losing electricity, Bobcat Den will be forced to close if there is no power.

Most importantly, students can always depend on receiving information regarding any weather-related closings or schedule changes in their school inbox.

“We always communicate with campus any dining schedule changes via email,” Spalding promised.

When it comes to winter weather maintenance around campus, however, Associate Vice President for Facilities Keith Woodward says Quinnipiac is fortunate to have a group of dedicated employees making sure they are prepared as best they can be for when winter conditions arrive.

“The preparation is a year round process,” Woodward said. “From equipment evaluation at the end of the season, to time spent in August or September when we are purchasing product to help with sidewalks and roads.”

The team of groundskeepers, mechanics and custodians, combined with some contractors, adds up to a staff of roughly 50 to 60 people.

And although the facilities crew works hard to be proactive, Woodward noted that New England weather can often be unpredictable.

“Every storm is different, every storm starts at a different time, ends at a different time, temperatures can be above or below freezing, it can ice over,” Woodward said. “It’s really just a matter of paying very close attention to the details of what’s going on, being prepared, having a good plan, and relying on the excellence of our managers and employees with a goal of safety for the community.”

With about 10,000 people on campus daily, Woodward said the spaces need to be as safe as possible after a winter storm. Facilities is in charge of treating not only walkways, but parking lots, doorways, exit areas, and all entry points within 3.1 million square feet of Quinnipiac buildings.

Despite the intense workload, the facilities team never shies away from a challenge.

“Many members of our team were here when we had 40 inches of snow in a 24 hour period, so we have battled snow storms and come out with a safe campus,” Woodward said. “I think as long as we are prepared, there isn’t anything many of us haven’t experienced before… the management team of the operations staff is exceptional.”

So as the winter rolls on, let’s keep in mind the hard work and dedication of both the Quinnipiac Dining and facilities teams. The show must go on–even as the snow goes on. 

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