Behind the Scenes of a Snow Day

Kelly Gallagher ’22

Chief Features Editor

Snow days mean a day off for students, faculty, and other community members, but for the Grounds Department and Dining Services, it’s full steam ahead as they strive to keep the icy paths cleared and the hot food coming for snowed-in students. 

The work begins before the storm hits, as explained by Matthew Streeter, Greenhouse Foreman in the Grounds Department. Mr. Streeter told The Spire that a group of foremen meet with the superintendent of Grounds days before the storm hits in order to plan how to respond. Every storm is different, so Grounds has to prepare to react to a variety of factors, such as the storm duration, time of day, and whether or not there are students on campus. The type of storm can affect whether the clean-up crews can split shifts or if they must respond en masse, as well as whether or not crew members must stay on campus overnight. Crew members have slept in break rooms or their personal vehicles during the longer, more intense storms. It’s not ideal, Mr. Streeter admitted, but a bit of rest helps the workers keep themselves safe and at their most productive, so they can keep everyone else safe as well. 

Before a storm, Grounds pre-treats all roadways, staircases, and sidewalks with salt in order to prevent precipitation from freezing into ice. Once the snowflakes begin to fall, Grounds works tirelessly to continuously clear roads and walkways, keeping the snow from accumulating into excessive amounts. Even after the storm dies down, Grounds continues to spend days tidying up, re-salting all areas, plowing piles and drifts, and clearing parking lots. It’s an intense production, Mr. Streeter confided, adding that “We utilize all of our equipment, manpower, expertise, and cooperation from our community in order to ensure campus is as safe as can be.” 

Photo by John Cannon.
Matt Streeter is one of the dedicated workers who keeps campus safe on snow days.

When asked about his personal experience working at Holy Cross, Mr. Streeter wrote “An inspiring aspect of my interaction with the campus community relates to the students. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how polite and accommodating our student body is when dealing with snowstorms. There have been several moments during my tenure where students have verbally thanked us for our work on campus grounds. I’ve gotten countless nods, waves, thumbs-up, and smiles when I let someone pass around the plow truck. It’s a nice feeling to not only be recognized, but a nice smile or thumbs up can give you a bump to help you endure a long shift during yet another New England snowstorm.”

While the Grounds crew keep conditions under control outside, Dining Services is busy keeping everyone cozy inside. Linda Nardella, Director of Dining Services, Marty Dudek, Associate Director of Operations, and Aimee Randall, Chef d’Cuisine, sat down to provide The Spire with a behind-the-scenes look at what a snow day means for Kimball Staff members. Nardella explained that the Dining Staff is considered essential personnel who continue operations even when the rest of the College closes. Nardella and Dudek couldn’t even remember the last time Kimball had closed on a snow day – certainly not in the last 20 years. 

The Dining Staff is extremely dedicated to their work, and Kimball has never had trouble getting workers to come in on a snow day. Not only they have staff members from other dining locations joining the usual Kimball crew, but workers who are already scheduled to have the day off often volunteer to help out. If anyone feels uncomfortable about getting into work, they are not required to come, but workers are dedicated to pitching in when they can. In the case of the recent Dec. 1 snow day, only two workers were unable to come in. About 50 staff members, plus student workers, reported in to work. “We have fun doing it,” Randall said, with Nardella adding that staff members get very excited about snow days.

Like the Grounds team, Dining staff members are even prepared to stay on campus overnight, if the snowstorm would make it difficult for them to get home or get back to work the next day. 18 mattresses, plus freshly wrapped pillows and blankets, are ready for use in Lower Kimball. It’s viewed as a big sleepover. Nardella, Dudek, and Randall fondly remembered the most recent “sleepover,” which occurred a few years ago. 

Nardella explained how important it is to Dining to continue running on a snow day. “We take pride in what we do,” she said. Although dining services at other colleges rarely run on snow days, Dining at Holy Cross recognizes that once the other buildings on campus close, Kimball becomes everyone’s living room. Dining wants what’s best for the student body and is eager to make them comfortable when there’s nowhere else to go on campus. All the staff members are glad to pitch in, Randall added, continuing that “this is like our second home, we want to make sure you’re fed and taken care of.”

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