The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Snow causes damages, costs the University

UNC took a beating from the polar vortex back in February — and so did its wallet.

Last month, the University cancelled classes and closed offices for several days due to severe weather.

More than canceled classes

snow’s estimated impact through Feb. 20

52.4 percent
decrease in transactions campus-wide from Feb. 12 to 14

43 percent
decrease in transactions at Lenoir Dining Hall

In the process, UNC lost revenue from student-frequented places, and students lost class time. The University also had to deal with additional costs that come with the snow days.

The costs are estimated to be more than $900,000 through Feb. 20 for the Division of Finance and Administration, said Janet Kelly-Scholle, director of finance communication and training. The division includes the Department of Public Safety, facilities services and student stores, among other entities.

Kelly-Scholle said the cost included system failures, meals for emergency employees who worked during the school’s closure and tow fees. There were also supply and equipment costs as well as repair costs for grounds and roadways.

She said the estimate did not include landscape repair and restoration or extra compensation for emergency employees.

Kelly-Scholle said staff costs were the highest.

Neel Ahuja , an English professor, said his salary wasn’t affected because it is a set amount — but he did have to cancel class, reduce readings and shift material.

“I also had to postpone paper deadlines, which is great for students, but also bad for students because then you don’t have those measures of your performance. You don’t get grades back as quickly,” he said.

Students were also not able to go to other campus locations, such as Student Stores.

John Gorsuch , director of Student Stores, said the most money was probably lost at the Pit Stop and The Daily Grind.

Gorsuch said the total loss of revenue for the store is negligible.

“I believe a lot of (sales are) just delayed. (Students) just buy it after the store opens back up again,” he said.

Brandon Thomas, spokesman for Carolina Dining Services, said CDS also lost money because of the school closings.

Thomas said from Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, transactions were down 52.4 percent campuswide. Transactions actually increased for Rams Head Dining Hall, going up 36 percent, and also at Rams Head Market & Subway, despite reduced hours. Transactions at the Top of Lenoir were down 43 percent.

Thomas said CDS was able to prepare beforehand.

“On any given day there’s like a three-day supply of food in the main dining halls,” he said. “But seeing that the storm was coming, they had the opportunity to stock up and really have supplies on hand,” he said.

Kelly-Scholle said most of the costs are absorbed into a specific unit’s budget. She also said UNC has reserves that it can use to cover circumstances like polar vortexes.

Thomas said the reduced hours were worth any lost revenue for safety reasons alone.

“Whenever there’s students on campus, the goal is to feed them and that was accomplished,” he said.

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