BOZEMAN – Crews are now working to clear snow off of other buildings across the campus of Montana State University after two buildings suffered roof collapses just days apart.
A third building, one connected to both the North and South gym, is the focus.
The loss of both gyms and the closure of the Marga Hoseaus Fitness Center has raised concern among students, even their parents, all who find themselves looking up and asking questions.
Meanwhile, MSU officials say now the goal is clearing snow from other buildings, with what they are calling an abundance of caution.
“It is pretty crazy,” says Ben Kobrin, a junior at MSU and an Industrial Systems Engineering student. “The first thought that comes in your mind, of course, when you see a building on campus that has fallen down is, am I safe?”
First the South Gym, then the North Gym — two days apart.
Now, MSU officials say future safety is key, something students like Ben Kobrin agree with.
“Professor was talking the Monday before this happened about Montana State University is known for their snow load and their overall great problem-solving skills as an engineering school for snow loads and then that Friday, we had two roofs fall down,” Kobrin says.
Ben says as an engineering student, these assessments could help set a precedent.
“This is a great example of what can go wrong even when all of the protocols are followed,” Kobrin says.
Earlier Monday, you could actually see some of the crews up on the Upper Gym.
They were throwing snow into a large tarp and bringing it down, all in an effort to make sure this doesn’t happen a third time.
“It was built with similar methods and similar materials and while it shows no signs of distress, we do want to make sure we get as much weight off of it as possible just as a precaution,” says MSU spokesman Michael Becker.
Becker adds the Leon Johnson Hall annex and the Student Union building were also both cleared of snow out of precaution.
“MSU has been here 125 years and we haven’t had buildings fall in,” Becker says. “This has been an unusual winter. It’s an unprecedented situation and we are coping.”
Becker says while the emergency is over, this has been an eye-opener for the university.
“We want to plan for recovery and we want to plan for how we continue our operations throughout the rest of the semester as we look toward someday eventually rebuilding,” Becker says.
MSU officials say that employees who worked in the center will be relocated to different places temporarily.
They add that they cannot say when — or if — the two gyms will be demolished until after an insurance investigation.
As for the center itself, it remains closed.
Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News