Did I use enough awful pun clichés in the title? Are you sure?
There’s been some disagreement lately, on the newly Frankless ACB and elsewhere, regarding last week’s snow day—specifically, whether it was a Very Big Deal, or just kind of a big deal. When did we last get this much snow? And when the hell did we last have a snow day during a semester? Some say 1996. Others, 1978. Given the four-year student turnover, it’s difficult to establish an accurate institutional memory on Important Issues Like This. I could probably ask Martin Benjamin ’57, but that would require, y’know—asking Martin Benjamin ’57.
So I dug through Argus archives from both years instead; I found no evidence of full-scale university-announced snow days in either, but I did find articles pertaining to similar massive snowpocalypses of Wesleyan winters past. And it all seems eerily familiar.
The first article (previewed above, continued here) was published 33 years ago, as some dorky Alpha Delt President named Mikey Roth huddled over his thesis on radical fashions of university presidents the history of psychological thought and prepared to graduate a year early. The article charts the effects of winter storm “Larry”—the worst in nine years—which conspired with not one but two strains of flu epidemic (one strain on its way out, another, rumored to be the “Russian flu,” about to hit) to produce a miserable student body apparently not too busy wearing bell-bottoms and bumpin’ Bee Gees to notice. Then-Governor Ella Grasso declared a state of emergency (sound familiar?) and up to 20 inches of snow produced massive drifts in Middletown (yes, it does), but the university refused to cancel school altogether (déjà vu, yo!), although professors used their own discretion (stupid question: how did this process work before email? Did you just show up to class not knowing if it would be held or not?).
Meanwhile, on the flu front:
Another hint, offerred [sic] by a professor in the biology department, is to refrain from smoking dope. According to him, marijuana interferes with the white blood cells’ ability to engulf and devour little germ babies.
LOL, 1978. You so crazy!
Next on the Wes snow timeline: the so-called “Blizzard of ’96,” on January 8 of that year—before classes started again. “It was one of the worst predicaments to ever befall mankind,” comments Gabe Paquette ’99 in the article, which seems like possible hyperbole to me, although admittedly I was too busy eating playdough and living the kindergarten dream to offer informed commentary on the Blizzard of ’96.
Maybe Paquette was unlucky enough to have left his car in the Vine Lot:
Physical Plant was forced to load hundreds of cubic yards of snow into trucks and transport them to a more spacious location: the Vine Street parking lot. Unfortunately, this strategy caused minor problems for a few students who had remained on campus and needed access to their parked cars.
Meanwhile, the same month, heavy snowfall caused an entire fucking wall of Freeman to collapse; it was deemed “irreparable” by a city expert, ruining the intended location of Wesleyan’s semester registration, and bringing to mind yesterday’s alarming roof collapse on Main Street in Middletown.
Safety lesson: don’t build igloos, don’t go outside, avoid walls, avoid roofs. Happy Thursday!
- 1978: “Snow, Flu Dump on Campus,” page two
- 1996: “Blizzard of ’96 Brings Hardships and Fun”
- 1996: “Freeman Wall Collapses Under Heavy Snowfall”