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Beloit College closes from freezing temperatures for first time in over 25 years

This article was originally printed in the Feb. 4, 2019 issue of The Round Table. 

As the intense polar vortex made its way through the Midwest, Beloit College decided to close their doors and encouraged students, staff and faculty to stay inside.

In an email to the campus community, President Scott Bierman addressed the cool issue at hand.

Due to extreme temperatures, Beloit College will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday, January 30-31,” Bierman wrote. “Weather forecasts are predicting that temperatures will be well below zero with wind chill temperatures at record-setting lows (-40 to -60).  Students, faculty, and staff are advised to avoid travel, stay inside, and not venture out into the extreme temperatures. Anyone who goes outside should wear multiple layers of clothing and cover all skin.”

Every office on campus was closed along with DK’s, Java Joint, the Sports Center and Library. Maurer Link Lounge and the Haven Basement Lounge became designated study spaces. Beloit students used the two days for an array of indoor activities, and some even outdoor, making sure to avoid the five-minute time limit until frostbite occurs.

The Beloit College Track and Field team hosted “indoor practices” where athletes were asked to become creative with their workouts.

“A few of us did Zumba in the living room of Theta Pi Gamma and almost threw out our backs,” Jamie Lepito’20 said of the workouts. “It was my first time doing a stair workout on a carpeted staircase.”

The closure came as a surprise to many community members. In 2014, Beloit College elected to stay open when it faced another polar vortex that brought temperatures in Chicago to -16, a significant difference to this year’s that brought temperatures close to -50. Fred Burwell, Beloit College’s archivist, stated that “the college has not closed due to weather during my time here–since 1893 when I was a student.” He did add, however, that while there was no clear history of the college closing in archival records, he “wouldn’t want to go out on a limb and say that it’s never, ever happened.”

As the polar vortex has concluded and the snow begins to melt, the death toll has risen to over a dozen deaths according to The Guardian. A man was found just outside Milwaukee frozen to death. This week the Midwest has experienced a swing of nearly 80 degrees with temperatures rising to as high as the low 40s.  

This unexpected change to the weather will bring further issues such as rapid flooding, bursted pipes and much more.

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