Campus closes abruptly

James Vaughn

USI students and faculty waited around 30 minutes at USI trying to get home Feb. 4.
USI students and faculty waited around 30 minutes at USI trying to get home Feb. 4.

Students and faculty struggled to reach their destinations Tuesday after university officials closed campus due to hazardous weather conditions.

An accident at the intersection of the Lloyd Expressway and Schutte Road created chaos as the USI community attempted to make their way off campus.

USI issued a RAVE alert just before 3 p.m., which stated only essential staff should report in.

Minutes later, the university sent out a second RAVE alert, which stated that the Vanderburgh County Dispatch requested motorists avoid eastbound Lloyd Expressway until 4:30 p.m.

Traffic remained at a near stand-still along University Boulevard for close to an hour.

Jasmon Dickson was shocked the university waited so long to notify people to leave campus.

“I mean, they probably should have told us a little bit earlier – maybe even canceled class or canceled school or something,” he said.

“The Rave alert was issued as soon as the decision was made,” said Kindra Strupp, assistant vice president for marketing and communications in a statement Wednesday morning. “Certainly there is a significant consideration for night classes and weather conditions worsening as night falls. It was unfortunate timing that the semi jack-knifed nearby about that same time.”

Dickson, a Spanish and anthropology major, is a commuter from Henderson, Ky., but he didn’t drive to campus Tuesday. He waited for the bus for almost an hour, he said. The bus would take him downtown, where his grandmother would pick him up.

Dickson waited in the Orr Center for awhile, but decided to make his way outside.

“It’s freakin’ cold,” he said.

Junior Marketing Major Bailey Hall waited in traffic.

“I would say I’ve been sitting in this spot for about 15 minutes,” Bailey said.

Freshman Social Work Major Clint Hoffman thought it would have been better to have students remain on campus until traffic improved, he said.

“It’s kind of annoying, but I don’t really know what you could do about it,” he said.

Hoffman was running late for work at Karen L. Schenk and Associates, an accounting firm, but said the office was understanding for the most part.

Amanda Storey works in Student Development and said she had to leave work early.

“I understand that it’s a tough decision to make and it’s just part of it – when they close the campus early, everyone has to leave at the same time,” Storey said.

When asked whether the campus was closed or classes were canceled – two separate decisions – Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications Kindra Strupp said it’s both.

“There aren’t any classes tonight,” Strupp said. “Why would students be on campus?”

Some students remained on campus after 3 p.m.

Strupp said she didn’t know whether or not students would get in trouble for being on campus when it’s closed.

Burger King, SubConnection, The Loft and the Eagle Express Convenience Store (C-Store) remained open until 8 p.m.

Rice Library closed its doors at 3 p.m.

The university tweeted around 6 a.m. Wednesday that campus would operate under normal conditions.

Bobby Shipman contributed to this story.