Managing the storm: A letter by a clumsy student

By Robert Mohr
Staff Writer

The first Sewanee snow of the year presents a flurry of experiences for students: freezing cold, unimpressive snowfall, and the opportunity to post beach pictures with captions that lament the changing seasons. Each year, as I trudge through the cold and snow on my way to class, thinking thoughts of good cheer for my lovely professors who live on campus and therefore do not cancel class, I think of Sewanee’s sizable population of freshman who may be encountering snow for the very first time. 

Their exposure to this poetic natural phenomenon warms my heart almost as much as watching them shiver their way to class, woefully underdressed, typically in a hoodie with the name of a Texas sports team and cowboy boots.

Equally comforting as the suffering of my fellow classmates is the friendly email from Facilities Management (FM) reminding students of important information about inclement weather. Entitled “Managing the Storm (a short novel by Facilities & Risk Management)” it contains wonderful advice like: “If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.” and “It’s not too late to be the flu vaccine.”

Jokes aside, ice presents a major problem for students. It’s a well known fact that the sidewalk running past DuPont library on Georgia Avenue becomes a skating rink when it snows and this time was no different. I found myself skidding down the unsalted sidewalk on my trip to Stirling’s for my morning coffee. 

FM’s decision not to salt this sidewalk makes journeying to that side of campus extremely dangerous. The only other option is to walk in the street, where you’re at risk of getting hit by a car (probably driven by someone who’s never encountered ice while driving) or slipping on black ice in the street.

However, students attempting to access a section of campus with three of the most popular dorms (Humphreys, Courts, and Trez) are not the only ones at risk.

Hannah Keller (C’20) found herself in a slippery situation outside of Pub. Walking to the library from St. Luke’s she “was attacked. The ice, next to the trash can outside of Pub, suddenly appeared beneath my feet.” Reflecting on her harrowing experience she said: “Fall, I did. Embarrassed, I was. Holler upon my descent, I had to.”

If FM’s going to encourage students not to drive in inclement weather, then they should definitely provide safe walking routes throughout all of campus.