During the winter months, the Goshen College campus is often blanketed with a layer of snow and ice that cover not only the soccer field and grass, but also the sidewalks, the entrances to buildings, different stairways and the underpass. While the sidewalks are cleared by two full-time workers and one half-time outside workers, staffing cuts in the past five or six years have led to the Physical Plant hiring students to take care of the areas that are not accessible by machine.
This bas been going on for three years now and Craig Johnson, ground supervisor at the Physical Plant, thinks that it takes a special class of person to deal with the job.
Said Johnson, “not every student can get up at that time to go face the elements. We have a good crew of students this year.”
Six students, junior Viren Wadhwa among them, are responsible for keeping their assigned areas clear. Viren applied for the job later in the semester, when a friend at the Physical Plant recommended him for the job. However, most students applied after seeing the notice in the Communicator earlier in the school year.
The job takes grit and is demanding for an on-call student job. If there are more than two inches of snow on the ground, student workers are called at 5:30 a.m. and report at 6 a.m. for a shift that lasts until 8 a.m.
There are four main areas to cover; the campus is divided by the railroad tracks into a west section and an east section that are then further divided into two sections each. Student workers, five men and one woman, are responsible for keeping those areas clear.
One reason Wadhwa was interested in the job was the incentive it gave him to get up early—his first class is at 11 and he felt that he could use the motivation.
Once student workers arrive at the Physical Plant, they choose one of the many orange and yellow handled shovels lined up against the wall.
Students shovel by hand in teams of two people, clearing the entrances of buildings in a six-foot radius and laying down ice melt where needed.
Wadhwa and his teammate start at the back of the science building and move on to Coffman, the Ad Building, the Good Library, the Union building and Newcomer.
Said Wadhwa, “It’s a good job, but at the end of the day your back is tired, and the Umble Center steps can get pretty crazy.”
Despite starting out later in the semester, Wadhwa has enjoyed the job. He says he is glad to be able to keep people safe, despite the chilly outside work.
“I wear two layers of jackets, and you have to wear gloves because you’re bound to touch snow,” said Wadhwa. He also recommends that snow shovelers wear a “good hat”.
During the interview, it started to snow, and big gusts of white swirled across campus. When asked about his opinion on the snow outside, Wadhwa smiled, saying that if he were to get a call at 5:30 the next morning, he would be ready to get to work.