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If two snowstorms don't lead IU to closing campus and canceling classes, what does?


Students walk around campus Thursday through the snow and ice that still clings to the ground. Since 1908, IU has only closed campus 12 times. Eight closures were caused by bad weather. Hannah Boufford Buy Photos

Two snowstorms and below freezing temperatures hit Bloomington in the past week, but, as usual, IU did not close campus. 

Since 1908, campus has only been closed on 12 separate occasions, leaving many students asking what it takes for IU to call off school and close campus. 

Such decisions are made by senior members of multiple departments on campus, according to an IU press release, including the IU Emergency Management and Continuity, the IU Police Department, Facilities Operations, and Residential Program and Services.

These people consider factors such as the conditions of roads, sidewalks and the bus system, along with travel advisories, when making the decision.

Beyond these general guidelines, the 12 occasions on which IU has closed campus or closed offices may provide some insight into what specifically leads IU to close campus. 

Extreme Weather

Bad weather is the most common reason IU has closed campus, accounting for eight of the 12 closures since 1908, according to information from the IU Archives. 

The last time IU closed campus was during the "Polar Vortex" on Jan. 6-7, 2014. Other closures occurred Jan. 18-19, 1994, when a record low temperature of -34 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded, and March 20, 1996, when 10+ inches of wet, heavy snow fell.

Snowstorms and other inclement weather also caused closures Feb. 5, 1908; Jan. 26-27, 1978; Feb. 14, 2007; Jan. 28, 2009; and Dec. 26, 2012. 

Building operations issues

IU closed campus twice since 1908 for buildings operations issues. On Feb. 3, 1908, there was no heat in campus buildings, according to the IU Archives. Then, March 4-27, 1978, campus was also closed because of a coal shortage.

Other situations 

During most of October 1918, campus was closed due to an outbreak of the Spanish flu. Around 25 percent of the United States population was infected with the Spanish flu during the pandemic, and around 650,000 Americans died from the virus, according to a report from NPR.

IU also canceled classes and closed offices on Nov. 25, 1963, due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

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