Ice, ice, baby: How to make your way through campus this winter

Josette Corazza

Icy conditions on campus can impact students significantly. Often, you must plan to leave earlier for class in order to take your time navigating the frosted grounds. Most importantly, you need to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the potential dangers of slipping on ice. The university is normally vigilant about salting icy surfaces to help lower the risk of any accidental slippages. During the most recent arctic blast, however, Washington and Lee neglected to salt an often-disregarded part of campus.

The Woods Creek apartments are located in a crevice of campus that is consistently undergoing renovations and construction to catch up to the novelty of newer campus housing. Many students live in these apartments, yet during the latest ice storm university officials evidently neglected to remember that these students needed to travel from their apartments to classes on the main campus.

One of the fastest and most efficient ways to reach the main campus from the Woods Creek apartments is to travel across the footbridge over Woods Creek and up the gravel hill behind Leyburn Library. After the significant snow and icefall on Feb. 4, the university did not bother to salt this pathway whatsoever.

The footbridge that spans the Woods Creek is narrow and fairly long. On Feb. 5, it was almost completely covered in ice. Students were able

to pick their way around large patches of ice and find footing in small areas of the bridge with little to no ice covering it.

Once students managed to make it across the footbridge, they had the steep gravel hill leading up to Leyburn to contend with. Ice covering almost every inch of the hill makes it into, essentially, a giant frozen slide. From afar, I watched as students started up the hill, slipped multiple times, and either gave up and retreated completely or walked to the side of the hill and trudged through slushy grass to avoid the dangers of slipping.

Leyburn’s large façade blocks sunlight from this hill for most of the day, and the ice covering its surface has been thawing at a very slow pace since the initial chilly temperatures. The longer the icy hill takes to thaw and the longer it sits without being salted, the more the chances increase for students to slip and get injured navigating the gravel.

The university should be thorough when salting and never skip popularly traveled parts of campus. Until they consider just how essential this practice is, however, students should take care to walk as safely and carefully on ice as possible. If a route has not been salted, it is most likely safer to take a different path. If you must attempt to walk on ice, make sure to wear shoes with soles that provide traction, hold onto railings whenever possible, keep your hands free to catch you in the event of falling, and walk with slow, short steps.