GVSU Facilities urges drivers, pedestrians to stay alert during winter

GVL/Luke Holmes

GVL/Luke Holmes

Sarah Hollis

Winter is the season that brings fires, hot chocolate and, unfortunately, turbulent weather. With this in mind, Grand Valley State University’s Department of Public Safety and Facilities Services are working to make campus safe for drivers and pedestrians during the long winter months. 

“We’ve been very busy preparing for snow,” said Edward Simon, grounds operation supervisor for Facilities Services, via email. “The department is reviewing procedures, verifying our equipment is ready, getting materials in and training the many people we have helping prepare campus for a safe commute to class. Since we are continually improving our processes, we have made some adjustments to our work and confidently anticipate a safe winter season.

“We have improved the products that are used on campus and have improved our processes by introducing call-in staff at our busiest times, as well as adjusting staff hours to monitor conditions overnight.”

This year, both departments are bringing new strategies and techniques to their preparation for snow, as well as improving upon their existing policies. 

“Being part of public safety, we’re always trying to push and offer new ways that students can be safe out on the roads,” said Olivia Caton, parking enforcement supervisor for GVSU’s Department of Public Safety. “We have our Facebook page, Twitter, some other social media that’s out there that we try to push information out and keep students updated with. Now that we have a student employee who can help with the websites and the social media, I think we’ll be better about that this year.”

These departments work to keep GVSU’s campus safe, but they also have advice for both pedestrians and drivers on campus so they can do their part to make the campus as safe as possible this winter. 

“I think the biggest thing is what we refer to as periscope driving,” Caton said. “What that is, is you’re running behind or it’s really cold outside and you don’t want to have to scrape off your entire windshield or brush it off, so you start your car, a little tiny circle has defogged or thawed so you can see through that one circle and that’s how you drive.

“I’ve seen this on our campus way too many times, and we have staff out there doing crosswalks, we have so many pedestrians on this campus, that if your vehicle didn’t have enough blind spots as it is already, having that one just limited vision can be quite detrimental.” 

Simon encourages pedestrians walking across campus to remain vigilant as well.

“Remember, in the dry season, pedestrians have the right of way, but in our wintry months, please look before you cross the street since it takes a vehicle longer to stop and we would hate to see anyone hurt for the sake of waiting 15 seconds to cross the street,” he said.

Simon also urges students and faculty to be mindful of those working for Facilities Services.

“Our equipment is easy to identify with our yellow strobe lights,” he said via email. “If you see us pass by, please look up and acknowledge our operators as they are providing a service and not intentionally trying to scare you or get in your way.”

Those interested in more information can visit the Parking Services website at www.gvsu.edu/parking/ or the Facilities Services website at www.gvsu.edu/facilitiesservices/