Debate: Should Michigan Tech take more precautions for winter?

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ROUND 1

PRO:

Winter is arriving quickly. For a lot of people, they haven’t had much experience with Houghton winters. The first snow is always exciting, but soon after a lot of people are hit with conditions they are not prepared to deal with. It can be really dangerous. Walking and driving conditions change from safe to slippery overnight. Temperatures plummet and winds pick up. It’s easy to fall, crash while driving and get too cold. While it’s impossible to control the weather, it is possible to provide some precautionary measures for students, faculty and staff. We already have construction equipment and salt/sand to help clear roads and walkways, but that can only do so much. One way Michigan Tech could improve winter precautions is by requiring incoming transfer and new students to attend a “winter 101” course. The course wouldn’t have to be very long or complicated. A simple half an hour to an hour-long meeting during orientation week. I think it’s important to warn students and faculty that harsh conditions are a thing that happen up here and there are necessary precautions that will help make life a little safer. For example, while city roads are not the school’s responsibility, teaching students how to prepare their cars could be helpful. If the school even provided small shovels for students to put in their trunks so they can shovel themselves out of campus parking lots, that would be an immense help.

CON:

It is not Michigan Tech’s responsibility to babysit the students and faculty during winter months. The institution already takes necessary steps to keep campus as safe as possible for everyone. They invest in snow removal, maintenance and de-icing efforts – including salting and sanding sidewalks and parking lots. Students should know what they’re getting themselves into when they come up here. For anyone that’s researched the school even minimally, they should know that we get a lot of harsh weather conditions for about five months of the year. The responsibility that Michigan Tech has to make campus safe is fulfilled. Beyond that, there is nothing they are required to do, nor are they liable for winter-related injuries. Even at Mont Ripley, they have signs saying that all risk associated with using their facilities and hills are assumed by the user. Michigan has the slip and fall laws as well. This means if there are open, obvious, hazardous conditions, someone is not entitled to compensation for falling. So there is no liability for Tech to compensate any students or faculty that fall under this law. Michigan Tech should not be responsible for the negligence and unpreparedness of students and faculty. As stated earlier, harsh winter conditions are a regular occurrence here. If you aren’t prepared then it’s on you, not the school.

ROUND 2

PRO:

A lot of people worry about getting too cold. And this is a legitimate concern, especially during the Winter Carnival all-nighter. Again, anyone who’s researched the area or lived up here for more than a winter knows that extreme cold is an issue, especially when the wind gusts. Even for those who are experienced with the cold, all it takes is one really cold day to figure it out. Michigan Tech cannot control the weather, so there isn’t much they can do to make sure it doesn’t get too cold for students. Like I stated previously, it’s on the students and faculty to take care of themselves beyond the necessary steps that Tech already takes. Of course, the school hates to see students and faculty injured or sick from the cold, but there really isn’t anything they can do to fight Mother Nature. They could offer courses or info sessions on how to deal with the cold, but that would imply that students would attend. Even when those types of sessions are mandatory, they fail to actually get through to the audience. The students may attend but getting their attention is harder. If it’s included as an orientation week activity, there’s a risk of it being too early in the year to be relevant or to stick in the students’ brains. Winter is what it is here. There’s really not a lot anyone can do to make it better beyond what’s already being done.

CON:

Tech does a lot already to help keep everyone safe. Every year, students and faculty face injuries ranging from bruises to broken bones just from winter weather. While Tech does the best they can to keep paths cleared out and they hold no responsibility for the hazardous conditions, they could do a lot more in the way of education. While an info session may not be 100 percent effective, it would be a start to helping students and faculty be smarter and safer during winter months. Another method of educating students is simple emails or flyers around campus reminding students to bundle up, walk carefully and keep emergency supplies-such as shovels, brushes/scrapers and blankets-in their cars. It is going to be impossible to protect 100 percent from the dangers of weather and Mother Nature but we can do the best we can to educate people to make sure they are as prepared as possible. A lot of people do some research on the area, but that research doesn’t always provide help for how to, for example, shovel out your car or walk properly on ice so you don’t fall. There are a lot of tips and tricks that get missed when we’re trying to prepare for winter. A lot of people could benefit from having some more formal education on how to handle winters. It would keep students and faculty safer.