By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
The university closed campus Thursday because of winter weather hazards for the first time in nearly two years, Jim Holmans said.
Shortly before 7 a.m., Holmans, assistant to the president, sent a university-wide e-mail canceling all 8 a.m. classes. Two hours later, all classes were canceled including evening classes, and all campus offices were also closed.
“The Provost’s Office made the decision to cancel classes about 9 a.m. based on gathered information from some faculty, ACU police, Abilene police, the National Weather Service in San Angelo, local TV weather forecasts, etc.,” Holmans said in an e-mail.
He said safety is the first consideration when it comes to severe weather and the decision to close the university is not taken lightly.
Police chief Jimmy Ellison was in on the decision to cancel classes.
“When we consider closing the campus, we look at current road conditions, current weather conditions and projected weather and road conditions,” Ellison said. “Based on what we saw at 8:30 a.m., with the icy conditions, dropping temperatures and the Abilene Police Department reporting a lot of accidents, it didn’t make sense to leave the campus open when it could have gotten worse.”
Temperatures on Thursday were not expected to reach above-freezing, but by 1 p.m. most of the ice had melted and a snowstorm hit, so many students left their residence halls to sled down the hill behind Smith and Adams residence halls.
Mark Foster, freshman computer science major from Abilene, met up with friends at the hill for sledding and snowballs.
“We went near Sherrod Apartments and grabbed some trash can lids and slid down the hill for awhile,” Foster said. “We also had a snowball fight and played around in the snow for awhile. It was great.”
Because Foster grew up in Abilene, he said he didn’t expect school to be canceled today.
“I was very excited when I heard they had eventually canceled everything,” he said. “They always say it’s going to snow, and then we get just a little and it melts right away.
He said he couldn’t remember for sure when Abilene last had a snowstorm like this.
While many people were excited for the break from classes, Ellison said many people have complained that the school closed.
“There will always be those that want to second guess why we do or don’t close,” he said. “But we have to make a decision based on the information we have early in the day before it gets worse. If students come and get stuck on campus, that’s not good. Safety is our primary concern, not class schedules and work.”
Ellison said students should remain cautious while driving, even if it is on slush and to be careful when driving on bridges and on Judge Ely Boulevard because of its long and gradual slope.