The first big snow of the school season happened on Saturday, and today we found out the snow thing is going to be a bigger deal than we thought. As we prepare for a “crippling and potentially historic” New England blizzard this week, students just kind of want to know 1) if classes are going to get cancelled and 2) if airwes can brave the storm. (Probably not/probably not?)
In this new, post-Snowpocalyptic world, man must battle machine for dominance.
When I shoved open the door to Butterfields B this morning, dressed in layers for all levels of chilly tempest (protip: Under Armor, then shirt, then hoodie, then coat), the only path to get out of the labyrinth was manmade — boot imprints probably left over from last night’s late-night partygoers. That was approximately 10 a.m. By the time I returned half an hour later, the CATs had carved out a path to the doors of my building but were still working on A and C. At least the wind wasn’t as awful as it got last night. No amount of Wesleyan hoodie will protect your face from snow that does not simply blow in one direction, but whips around and aims specifically at faces— like predator drones.
Despite the scary ubiquity of the snow, I was not the only person attempting to cross this hellscape. Also attempting to leave were a group of sophomores from Butt A — one of whom was not actually wearing shoes. I walked with the group through the semi-plowed paths and crossed Lawn Avenue, which, at the time, had seen exactly 0 clearing action. These are streets, that cars are ostensibly supposed to be able to drive on— well, not at the moment. The snow was about four feet high, and completely covered from High Street up. So we waded across.
Going to Church Street, which was completely driveable, we all had to avoid the CAT clearing the student paths. Don’t think about using stairs any time soon — they’re all submerged. The way to Usdan was pretty easy from there out, as the plows had pretty much made a neat-enough path along College Row. What’s amazing is seeing how Allbritton, PAC, and South College are impossible to get through, because the snow is just drowning them. I was a little worried that some of these glass doors would break under the pressure.
More of my adventures, and two entire galleries of photographs, after the jump.
[IMAGE UPDATE: 4:25 p.m. 2/7] New forecasts predict Middletown to be in the 20-30 inch range, and some parts of Massachusetts are going to receive up to 40 inches.
I found out that they do, in fact, name blizzards, shortly after writing this headline, but was too proud to change it. This one is “winter storm Nemo.” Let me get all my one-liners out of the way first: “Won’t take long to Find Nemo at this rate!” “Guess we should all head to P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney!” “Maybe the storm only speaks whale, and we can ask for help! Moooooooowwoooooowaaaaaawaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” “Know what this storm’s saying about New England? MINE.MINE.MINE.MINE.MINE.MINE.MINE.” Good. That’s over with.
Just hours after the 35th anniversary of the legendary “Blizzard of ’78” had her way with most of the Northeast, what I prefer to call “Monsterblizzard Kanye” prepares to storm through Upstate New York and hit Middletown around 7 a.m. Friday morning.
News of this comes on the heels of Superstorm Sandy, Hallowinter Wonderland, Hurricane Irene, and Snowpocalypse 2011. Somewhere, Al Gore is having an orgasm.
Those who have not attended the minimally publicized meetings regarding the administration’s plans to build a new natural gas power plant on campus—it is time you paid attention.
After the Snowpocalyspe of last October, President Roth mandated that the University strive to reduce the risk of losing schooldays in the event of a similar weather emergency in the future. Some administrators and Physical Plant staff developed a plan to construct a natural gas co-generation power plant near Freeman Athletic Center to supplement a similar plant that Wesleyan built in 2008 on the corner of Williams and High Streets. This new plant, they claim, is necessary to allow us to go into “island mode” and avoid a blackout during the increasingly common extreme weather events. For a combination of logistical, budgetary, and moral reasons, I argue otherwise.
First, some background. The plan was set on trajectory behind closed doors, without input of the community or students, until Evan Weber ’13 gleaned through a comment made in passing at a sustainability meeting that this was being proposed. In fact, Wesleyan’s new Sustainability Coordinator, Jen Kleindienst, hadn’t heard of it either until about a week before Weber. By the time Weber organized an emergency organizing meeting, Wesleyan had already hired a firm to site and start designing the plant. As Weber told the Argus, “I want to start a conversation about the power plant with all constituents because students, professors, and other members of the community have been largely left out of the discussion.”
So why not have that discussion now?
There are many problems with the proposed plant, which are laid out in a recent Wespeak written by a few concerned students, including Weber and myself. These are what I believe to be some of the most compelling issues at hand:
“If you think we’re crazy over the last few days, just keep in mind that we’ve kind of been homeless.”
As classes resume, as many (though far from all) campus houses light up with full power, and as we return to what President Roth calls “the normal rhythms of our educational mission,” one group of increasingly manic refugees continues bearing the aftereffects of the storm, living on the boundaries of sanity and shelter in the Clark Lounge.
They are the residents of 200 Church—the lively group of freshmen forcefully evacuated from their house on Tuesday afternoon—and they’ve been occupying the dorm lounge ever since, sleeping on couches and floors, 10 or 15 to a room. “I used to think it was great that all of my friends are in 200 Church, living in my house,” one resident told me. “But now it’s a problem. Because I have nowhere else to go.”
BZOD and I stopped by Camp TwoHo last night during our late-night drive through campus to investigate where power has (and has not) been restored. It’s a surreal scene. Students are red-eyed, exhausted, trying to remain positive. Clothes, laptops, food wrappers, banana peels are strewn indiscriminately throughout the living space. Conversations descend into manic laughter. Bitterness pervades the room as the surrounding campus returns to normalcy. So this is what “alternative housing” looks like. When will these frosh get to go home?
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. No, it’s not that your dorm has power again. WesWings is back. Although they haven’t explicitly said “dinner tonight” yet, it looks like that’s going to happen. The WesWings Facebook page has provided a continuous stream of humor since the blackout began, including:
- “we are now using “CL&P” to replace swear words. Example: That CL&P totally cut me off at the intersection.”
- “I fear this blackout may last longer than Kim’s marriage. “
- “We are still hopeful that we get it back overnight so that we might return to the normal rhythms of our food service mission” (compared to President Roth’s “By resuming classes we aim to return to the normal rhythms of our educational mission”)
This is Dateline Wesleyan, reporting live from the Exley Science Center, where it’s approximately ungodly-o’clock. Live from the scene, Virgil Taylor ’15 is typing the blurb below:
Salutations. You may have received a bunch of emails today, pointing out that: “One perspective which has been neglected in the administrations response to the snow storm has been that of staff, and the unique needs staff face during disasters like this one.” A whole bunch of Wesleyan students got together and talked about that, and we are starting a whole bunch of stuff to fix that. If you missed out, or were in fact there, go to this link, join the Google Group and join the conversation. Thanks.
More formally: Many students are unsatisfied with the lack of measures taken to provide support or accomodations to the University’s staff during the storm and ensuing outage, especially in light of the administration’s work to resume classes tomorrow. Examples:
- Many workers’ homes have lost power and will be without power for days and potentially weeks, endangering University employees’ shelter, food supply, and other basic tenets of survival.
- Many university employees have children who aren’t going to school (public schools were closed for the week in Meriden and other nearby areas), and now must make tough and potentially costly decisions about child care.
- Many workers face difficult commutes thanks to gas shortages, dangerous driving conditions, and other risks. Even those who do have power, like my boss, are forced to work long hours to fill duties others cannot.
Students have already begun to take action to support Wesleyan’s staff: the Exley supply drive is one of several actions being planned or already underway. Different groups are also coordinating the creation of a formal document addressed to the administration, outreach to the Wesleyan community (like this post) and the greater Middletown/Connecticut community staff are a part of, and working with the employees themselves to ensure that their voices are being heard. For more detailed information, get involved! Click through to see the email that inspired this action:
I’m sure that, whether you like it or not, the blackout is on your mind. In light of that (haha, sorry), here’s something that pertains to it:
Virgil Taylor ’15 is looking for pieces of our blackout. If you wrote something down or feel like doing so, send it his way. Or if you made an image, or are making an image, send it his way. You can email questions to vtaylor[at]wesleyan[dot]edu, but submissions should be sent to octoberblackout[at]gmail[dot]com.
For those still without power, now may be the perfect time to finally work on those visualization skills...
With promises to update the student body again tomorrow evening–barring any unforeseen events in the interim–Rothocalypse writes again to assuage the less-gruntled members of the student body.
Fear not, fellow WesKids, the administration has heard (some of) your cries! Acknowledging that these “are not ideal conditions for resuming coursework,” Rothocalypse makes a convincing point: “having classes, even when assignments are not completed, is preferable to not having classes.”
Take a deep breath everyone, trust that the administration and your professors are (contrary to some popular belief) working in your best interests and trying as best they can to get back to business as usual, and start wondering if the fact that “city businesses [have] started serving customers”–as reported by the Patch–means that Titanium/The Nest will be open tomorrow.
Full text of the latest email after the jump.
Yoyoyo this is your main man (and apparent Roth-apologist – hello there, Simon~), frostedmoose, with a message from Senor Sexy-pants Jacob Eichengreen ’13:
Espwesso will be closed until at least Thursday (maybe). We’ll know soon if we’ll actually open Thursday or if it’ll be on Sunday instead.
As a side note, a shout out to Ed Thorndike ’89 of WesWings: thanks for the picture, and the food! You’re a god among bros.