On Monday, Jan. 15, a rare, thin blanket of snow fell on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus.
While UTC only got a light dusting, some areas in the Chattanooga region received up to six inches of snow, leaving campus closed until Thursday, Jan. 18.
The winter weather provided a few fun snow days for students, but many staff members worked behind the scenes to keep campus running and students safe.
Over the three days, below-zero temperatures across the region resulted in icy roads and sidewalks.
UTC Director of Safety and Risk Management Bob Jackson was one of those stranded in his home during the winter weather. He coordinated with numerous other facilities on campus, providing resources to help them assist others.
Jackson noted many of those people on campus went above and beyond, recalling that he was involved in many “all-hands-on-deck conversations.”
“People had to be doing physical things in 10-degree weather, five-degree weather, which is crazy,” Jackson said, “but when the call went out for help, people responded.”
Here are a few who braved the snow and ice and kept UTC running for the students who live on campus.
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Cpl. Gassim Abazid
As a UTC police officer, Cpl. Gassim Abazid has many responsibilities to keep everyone safe. With winter weather and the campus closed, he had additional duties in case someone slipped on ice, pipes burst from the freezing temperatures or a car got stuck. With limited faculty and staff around, he felt that his presence on campus was particularly vital.
“It’s something I don’t take lightly,” he said. “I take it very seriously because I want to make sure everybody gets the service if they need it. Of course, I’ll be there if anybody gets in an accident or can’t start their car.
“I was making sure everybody around the area was slowing down because a lot of students were walking to the ARC (Aquatic and Recreation Center) or going out to play in the snow. We wanted them to enjoy that.”
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Meghan Roberson, resident director of Boling Apartments, was the RD on call Jan. 15-19. Like all RDs on campus, Roberson lives within her community.
“During this time, I received calls from different complexes and responded as necessary,” she explained. “Once the frozen temperatures hit, we went to by-complex on-call. During that time, each RD was responsible for their complex.
“I live on North Campus, and I was helping cover a complex on South Campus. It was important I was on campus to be present to respond to things.”
When the University announced that the campus would reopen, Roberson checked to ensure the outdoor areas were safe.
“There were several ice spots in areas where the sun did not hit, especially around the gutter pipes and downspouts. These areas included walkways around the campus and stairwells students had to use. I went around and salted these areas in hopes to help the ice melt. I wanted to make sure the students in my community felt comfortable and safe walking to and from class and their rooms.”
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Adam Groves, the assistant ground supervisor in Facilities, Planning and Management at UTC, ensures the maintenance of a safe and well-kept environment for the UTC community.
To keep everyone informed and prepared, Groves said the leadership team and administration maintained open communication with the grounds people regarding the weather changes. Along with his team, Groves performed tasks such as salting the paths, clearing ice and addressing whatever situations arose promptly and efficiently.
“Knowing we impact the students and the community makes me feel great,” Groves said. “We are passionate about this; it’s like our home and our family. It is our pleasure helping make (campus) life happen. This is what we love to do and we have a solid core group of guys who are dedicated and passionate about keeping UTC functional and beautiful.”
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Brian Freeman and Cedric Baldwin
Brian Freeman, a sous-chef and 14-year Aramark employee, and prep cook Cedric Baldwin work in the Mongolian section at Crossroads dining hall.
On a typical day, they work on preparing and serving meals to students.
The snow days, however, were anything but typical. While other on-campus food facilities were closed, Crossroads remained open to students.
Andrew Brown, Aramark’s regional district manager, commended Freeman and Baldwin for braving the elements to be at work.
“I know that even though classes were canceled, students were still in dormitories and that meal card was still active,” Freeman said. “So it’s a commitment to still provide those meals on campus, especially Crossroads. It was critical that this remained open.”
Baldwin, though, did not feel that he did anything out of the ordinary. He was supposed to be there for work.
“We pretty much stick with what the chef tells us,” he said, “and what we were expected to do.”