Goshen College doesn’t shut down campus very often. The last time this happened was February 2, 2011, and before that during the Great Blizzard of 1978.
This 2014 winter has proven exceptionally bitter on more than one occasion. For the first week of classes this semester, GC students struggled to get to Goshen while temperatures were around negative 40 with wind-chill, and some places were piled with three feet of snow from the wind and drift.
On January 27, the Elkhart County commissioners declared a “State of Emergency” at 7:30 a.m., which expired at 10 p.m. Tuesday morning. All over the county, cars were stuck in snow drifts, roads were inaccessible, and the county government began spending more than ever on plows and general road clearing, according to Goshen News.
But for some, these two days of “emergency” weather were a blessing, not a hindrance. For Erin Kilmer and Nick Schwartz, both juniors from Phoenix, Arizona, this was their first snow day.
“It was wonderful,” said Schwartz, who spent much of his two days off playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart: Wii.
“The best part about snow days is that they’re a surprise!” said Kilmer. “You don’t know they’re coming, and then schwam! The whole day is free.”
Kilmer enjoyed an extra-long shower, movies on Netflix, and making save-the-date cards for her upcoming wedding with Schwartz in December. “I felt like I had all the time in the world,” said Kilmer.
Of course, there is no escaping homework forever, even with a few days off.
“I actually had time to put good effort into my homework,” said Schwartz. But they both admitted the experience was a strange one on some level.
“The only time we had a cancellation in Phoenix was if there was an armed robbery nearby or a bomb threat,” said Schwartz.
Said Kilmer, “And it was weird that we couldn’t go to the store for food because the roads were closed.”
Overall, both thoroughly enjoyed their time indoors for a couple days.
“After three weeks of school, it was a well-needed break,” said Schwartz. Finding time for friends is often difficult with demanding classes, but this gave them both time to reconnect.
“It was just nice to be with friends and not worry about needing to leave or having work to do,” said Kilmer.
Even for GC professors, the snow-day was an unexpected blessing. Skip Barnett, Associate Professor of English, has been cross country skiing to work for weeks, and the snow day gave a little time to do it recreationally.
“I thought, let’s do this every week!” said Barnett. “I have a wood stove that I turn on when it’s cold…there is just nothing lovelier on a cold day.”
But Barnett did have his share of wintery trials as well. “I took advantage of the time off to install a new dishwasher…but I couldn’t finish because one of the pipes was frozen.” After going down to the basement and de-thawing the pipe with a hair dryer, Barnett finished the installation, made some soup, and sat down to get ahead on grading student assignments.
Patrick Mello, also a professor in the English department who lives in South Bend, had a hard time even getting back to work on Wednesday.
“In South Bend, the roads are still sheets of ice,” said Mello. “I got here today slowly and fearing for my life.”
Mello said he enjoyed the time off but is glad to be back at Goshen after spending two days with his children.
“Vacations are good, but you can’t live that way,” said Barnett about coming back to work on Wednesday. “It’s good to do something and have a purpose.”