Staff Editorial: There’s snow place like GW

As the District recovers from the devastation of Snowpocalypse, we expect students to look back on this storm with fond memories. On campus, the weekend was full of impromptu snowball fights, various last minute activities and free snacks in residence halls and at basketball games. In general, the University’s response was measured and effective, though there were some missed opportunities that GW could have seized.

At the height of the storm, we received a letter to the editor from junior Joseph Steigman praising GW Facilities Management for its tireless fight against the onslaught of snow. He wrote, “If this blizzard has proven anything about GW, it is that we have the best facility workers you could ask for.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. While most students spent their weekend frolicking in the snow or staying warm inside, GW’s facilities workers were out in full force, around the clock, braving the elements to ensure that campus was not crippled in the face of nearly 26 inches of snow. These integral members of the GW community went above and beyond for the safety and comfort of those on campus. We couldn’t be more proud to have such a dedicated team of employees on hand for such challenging situations.

Another group that surpassed expectations this weekend was the GW Department of Athletics. Due to the storm, the school waived the usual streaming fee for men’s basketball games, allowing students to watch Saturday’s game online for free. For those who did make the trek to the Smith Center, they were rewarded with free hot chocolate and cookies. Even without a win, the athletic department made an impressive effort to provide students with entertainment.

GW Housing Programs also deserves credit for understanding the realities of dorm life in a snowstorm. Housing staff members were instructed to keep an eye on residents, and provide updates on what students were doing with their spare time. On the surface, this may seem overly maternal, especially given that college students are old enough to handle a few days indoors. However, the truth is that students stuck in their rooms will inevitably become bored and are more likely to drink excessively. Housing struck the perfect balance by asking only that staff members be vigilant, but not being overzealous in their efforts to monitor their residents.

In addition, we are also happy to note that President Knapp has been personally checking on conditions around campus, and been actively communicating with operations personnel.

On the other hand, the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education efforts were lacking in the face of these realities. The mission of CADE is awareness, and they did not effectively inform students of the added dangers of drinking during severe weather. It was an opportunity for the office to raise awareness and further educate students about being safe and enjoying themselves. Even if the office had simply provided Housing staff members with additional information on handling emergency situations during a storm, the small effort would have gone a long way toward increasing safety during the storm.

Snowpocalypse 2010 will probably hold a special place in students’ hearts for years to come. The perennial complaints of a lack of unity and spirit on campus were rebuked by snowball fights in University Yard, snowmen dressed in GW gear on F Street and warm drinks enjoyed with friends as the city found itself blanketed in white. At the center of this experience were the efforts of a number of departments around the University. Although CADE could have done more to increase awareness, both the athletics and housing departments handled the storm impressively. But above all, we applaud GW Facilities. As Steigman wrote, “they are here doing difficult jobs while we play in the snow. So we tip our hats off to you: the men and women of GW Facilities.”

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