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The holiday season is upon us which means a lot of your students will be heading home for break.  In Spokane, Thanksgiving and Christmas usually mark the beginning of winter and the challenges that the cold weather brings to campus.  This year is predicted to be a harsh winter with both low temperatures and plenty of snow.  In fact, Spokane already has over a foot of snow! Here are three tips to share with your student to help them prepare for break and what could be in a lot of cases their first Spokane winter.

1) From the Feet Up

It should go without saying that your student needs a warm jacket, gloves, and hat, but many students not accustomed to snow neglect to wear proper shoes.  The campus maintenance crew does a great job keeping sidewalks and stairs clear and salted, but there are still spots of ice and slippery pavement that can catch your student off guard.  Shoes and boots with sturdy rubber soles provide traction which will keep your student safe and avoid the embarrassment of falling on the quad.

2) Secure your Space and Car

One of the great things about break is the ability to go home without having to take everything with you.  For students both on and off campus, it is important that they secure their belongings before leaving.  For on-campus students this means locking all doors and windows of their room and taking home all valuables or hiding them out of plain sight.  For students off-campus they should be extra careful to lock all doors and windows, as well as close all blinds and curtains.  Additionally, any mail that is sent to the house should be stopped.  It is important that students leave the heat at their house set around 60 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.  Make sure that your student checks with their landlord before leaving so their landlord knows they are gone, that any rent issues for January are taken care of, and that upkeep of the house such as snow removal has been addressed.

Along with securing their residence every student should make arrangements to keep their car safe.  It is against Spokane law to park on the street for longer than twelve hours, and cars left on their street are often towed or boxed in by snow banks from street plows.  Security has a program that allows students to park their car in the Boone-Hamilton lot on-campus even if they do not have a parking pass.  This program is only offered during breaks and cars must register with security.  For questions or to get more information about this program contact Campus Security at 509-313-6147 or online at blogs.gonzaga.edu/campo.

Finally, as students prepare to leave for home, they often pack their cars the night before they leave to avoid an extra fifteen minutes of putting things in the car in the morning.  This is a thief’s dream!  Too many times students who tried to plan ahead by packing the night before have their cars broken into and their belongings stolen.  The time they tried to save the night before is now lost on police reports, insurance paperwork, and many other things. Encourage your student to wait to pack his/her car until right before departure.

3) Slow Down-Spokane Driving Tips

The most important thing to remind your student this time of year is to drive slowly.  Four wheel drive and chains do little unless you drive the appropriate speed for the conditions.  Maintaining proper following distance can be the key to making it through the winter without a repair bill and a ticket from the police for following to close for conditions.  It is also helpful to keep a bag of sand in the trunk for traction in the snow.  We encourage all students to keep water, a spare jacket, and gloves in their cars at all times in case they are stuck waiting for help to arrive.


These are some tips to help your student remember as they get ready to leave and then come back for a new semester.  On behalf of our office, happy holidays and enjoy the time that you have with your family.

Bobby Van Cleve

Off-Campus Graduate Assistant

Student Life Office

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