During periods of severe weather, some University of Richmond faculty and staff choose to stay overnight instead of traveling to and from campus.
“We do whatever it takes to make sure that the main services are provided,” said Brittany Schaal, director of emergency management. “We have a very dedicated staff.”
During last week’s snowstorm, three employees and three managers in dining services chose to stay overnight, said Bettie Clarke, executive director of campus dining for University Dining Services.
The Dining Services staff has sleeping bags and bedding to accommodate 15 people. They also reserve rooms in the Jepson Alumni Center when possible, Clarke said.
“There are opportunities for staff from any department to stay overnight if they feel better being on campus as opposed to trying to travel,” Schaal said.
Some faculty and staff stay in the alumni center and others spend the night in certain parts of their offices, Schaal said. The decision to stay on campus or go home for the evening is entirely up to the person.
University emails about weather delays and cancellations refer to “essential personnel,” who are “expected to report as scheduled.”
Each department—housing, dining, retail services, public safety and more—identifies these “essential personnel.” They look to these employees to provide the main services in severe weather.
“To hear that university staff stay overnight when there is the possibility of bad weather shows amazing commitment to serving the UR community,” junior Sean Baker said. “It gives me a greater appreciation for the staff we have.”
The biggest challenge for the Dining Services staff is having adequate staff to produce, serve and clean after meals, Clarke said. The staff prepares each meal the day before it will be served.
“It is important to us that we have meals available for students and staff as well as being considerate of our employees so that they are able to get home safely,” Clarke said.
The university’s roads are often more clear than those within the surrounding community. Because these roads belong to the university, the staff gets started on them early, Schaal said.
The roads leading to campus do not belong to the university, though, and those roads are at the mercy of the local jurisdiction to clear them, she said.
Richmond received more snow this year than last, but the main difference has been the ice. There hasn’t been much ice in Richmond in the recent past, Schaal said.
Schaal said it was likely that Richmond would not see more severe winter weather this season.
There is a possibility for snow on Sunday, March 2. The forecast projects snow and rain, so Schaal said it was likely that the temperature would be warm enough for just rain.
Contact reporter Megan Haggerty at firstname.lastname@example.org