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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Coldest Temperatures in 20 Years

<ite Minnesota winters, with January temperatures averaging seven Fahrenheit and with record lows of -60 Fahrenheit, Carleton has never canceled classes in response to the weather, according to College Archivist Eric Hilleman.

Classes have been canceled for other reasons, including a daylong symposium on Hurricane Katrina in 2006, celebration of Carleton’s 125th anniversary, and protests against the Vietnam War in 1970.

Because Carleton is a residential campus, students live close to campus and rely on campus services, meaning they have to go outside regardless of the weather. As a result, Carleton does not cancel classes if faculty, staff, and facilities can operate safely, according to Elise Eslinger, Associate Vice President and Chief of Staff.

“We trust that our students, faculty, and staff will all make wise and safe choices as they do their best to navigate weather challenges,” she said.

Similarly, Governor Mark Dayton’s decision to cancel public school classes did not affect Carleton because the factors influencing his decision, such as students waiting for the bus and icy roads, are irrelevant to Carleton, according to Eslinger. She mentioned that Carleton’s peer institutions also held classes last week.

In addition to ensuring the safety of students and faculty, Carleton had to keep all the buildings warm. To do so, Maintenance carefully monitored the steam plant and all campus buildings.

“During the cold weather, we were a little more alert and a little more careful,” said Maintenance Manager Mitch Miller.

With a capacity of 53,000 pounds per hour, Carleton’s steam plant will likely never reach capacity. The reason for this huge capacity is a result of sustainability initiatives, such as increased insulation and ventilation in the buildings, which have steadily reduced Carleton’s reliance on steam.

Typically, Miller ensures that the steam plant produces enough energy for one generator to keep all rooms on campus at 68 Fahrenheit and a second generator that can kick in within 30 minutes of the first generator malfunctioning.

However, during last week’s cold spell, in which temperatures reached -20 Fahrenheit, the steam plant used 42,000 pounds of energy an hour in order to keep two generators running in concert with a third generator that could kick in within 10 minutes.

“The only true difference we make in the cold weather is that we pay closer attention because we cannot fail,” Miller said. “However, it is nice to have the system tested every once in a while, so we know that it works.”

Soon, Maintenance will sift through information from how the buildings functioned last week in order to improve cold weather protocol for the future. For now, Miller said the only issue was one pipe freezing, so Maintenance will examine why the heating in that particular room did not function properly.

Although Maintenance did not experience any trouble keeping the buildings warm last week, some students had difficultly making it to campus as a result of the weather.

Junior Leslie Moore was among those whose travels were affected by last week’s snowstorms along the east coast. She spent over two hours in baggage claim, causing her to miss her flight from Baltimore. Because Moore missed her fight, her luggage did not make it to Carleton until last Thursday.

“My biggest problem for those first few days was not having enough clothing.  It was cold and my warmest coat was packed in my lost bag,” she said. “It was more of an annoyance than a serious problem.”

By the end of Sunday night, 25 students from Carleton and St. Olaf who had reservation on Northfield Lines had missed their flights, according to Eslinger.

To help students returning to campus, residential life provided shuttles to take students from the bus stop in front of Willis to their dorms. Peer leaders, class deans, and security officers drove the vans, shuttling 24 students to their homes.

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