MU community combines effort to counter snowstorm

Throughout campus and Columbia, students could be seen lending a helping hand
Freshmen enjoy a day in the snow with their Residential Advisor Thursday afternoon at Stankowski Field. Many students spent the time they would normally be in class throwing snowballs, sledding and building snowmen.

As the snowstorm set in, students and staff banded together to combat the adverse effects of the weather.

The MU Student Center remained open for 24 hours along with the Women's Center and the Multicultural Center for any students stranded by the weather that were unable to make it home.

“The Women’s Center is open 24/7 during finals, so we know that we can trust our students to hang out here and relax and everything will be okay,” Women’s Center Coordinator Suzy Day said. “I had a lot of interested student staff that wanted to stay and hang out. I’m trusting them to watch over the space.”

Senior Alison Schwartz said she was glad the Women’s Center provided a place for her to stay and wait out the storm before walking home.

“I regularly come to the Women’s Center,” Schwartz said. “Being stuck on campus, I was really relieved to find out I was still welcomed here despite other places being closed. It’s a really welcoming place all the time and especially during emergency situations like this one.”

Multicultural Center Director Pablo Bueno Mendoza said he too was happy to provide a safe place for students to stay. He said the school’s response to the storm was good in that everyone was looking out for the safety of students.

“I think that most universities are much more forward-thinking about weather response than they were 20 years ago when I started my career in student affairs,” Mendoza said. “My whole experience at the University of Missouri since I came here in ’98 has been that we really are trying to be proactive in our response. We look at all the different logistics and try to do things for the safety of our students, staff and faculty.”

As the Student Center was offering its space for students, Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said ResLife was offering its open spaces to campus employees that needed a place to stay.

“We have offered up some of the few empty spaces that we’ve got for other campus employees that have been working, including landscape services employees, campus facilities employees and police officers,” Minor said. “We know we’re going to be housing at least six of the Campus Dining Services employees so students can have sufficient food.”

While some employees are defined as essential employees that must stay to keep the campus running, Minor said other employees volunteered to stay on campus to help out.

“Most of the ones here are volunteers,” he said. “We have some staff who are extremely dedicated to the students. They take their jobs very seriously. They have tremendous dedication to our students.”

Student staff members were also among the people helping to fight the weather. They shoveled entrances, exterior stairways and paths to help students move around campus easier.

“We tend to hire students who really care about their jobs,” Minor said. "They care about making their community a better place. Sometimes, it means pitching in and shoveling snow.”

Mobility was a concern for students on campus, and Minor said the focus of ResLife was on the safety and security of the students.

“I got a call from the Director of Disability Services earlier today,” Minor said. “They had a student who was bound in a scooter and was there taking a test and couldn’t get back because he lives off-campus. We were prepared to put him up, but she and her husband actually took him home.”

Minor said the school did the best it could to handle the snowstorm. He said the decision to cancel classes is a very complex decision, and he trusted that the senior administrators had weighed all the information and made the best decision they could. He said, just as it had in past snowstorms, the school would analyze the situation after it passed to better prepare for the future.

“We are an institution of higher education,” Minor said. “We’re all about learning. Any opportunity we have to learn from our past experiences and apply that to future situations, we do that. We did that after Snowpocalypse. I have every confidence that we will do that after this situation is over.”

Thunder Snow Rescue

A group of students were gathered in the LGBTQ Resource Center for a student leadership event that was cancelled due to the snow.

The student leaders sat in the center talking about how students were stranded around campus when they decided to do something.

“We couldn’t hold an event but we could help each other,” LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinate Struby Struble said.

The leaders took to Twitter, creating the Twitter hashtag #ThunderSnowRescue.

Although they could not drive students or help students stuck off-campus, they were able to leave the MU Student Center and help students, Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege said.

Kat Seal, Sustain Mizzou President and a Tiger Pantry coordinator, said the efforts were just random acts of kindness.

Droege said he hoped the hashtag allowed other people to help out as well.

“The hashtag can be applied not just to us but to anyone who reads it,” he said. “As long as the hashtag runs, anyone has that option to look into it.”

At various locations throughout campus and Columbia, students could be seen out and about helping anyone who needed it.

Sophomore Sam Vickery was walking home from the Student Center when, at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Highway 63, he notice two or three groups of about five students each helping stuck cars get out of the snow.

“The whole stretch of the road was full of stopped-up cars,” he said.

Vickery joined the effort as students pushed cars up the hill to get them out of the mess.

“People like to help others who are in a hard time,” Vickery said. “It just sucks because obviously no one was prepared enough to deal with the quantity of snow we got in just one day.”

On Providence Road, sophomore Brea Love and four friends had stepped out of the car they’d been stuck in for more than two hours to help push other vehicles.

The group had driven from College Avenue through campus to Providence after deciding not to take the winding, snow-covered Rock Quarry Road home.

They noticed members of MU fraternities sitting outside their houses in Greektown and helping cars that got stuck nearby, Love said.

“It’s nice,” she said. “It’s nice to see people coming together to do something to help, you don’t see that all the time.”

This was the side of the story people weren’t seeing, law-student Larry Lambert said.

At the intersection of Providence and Mcdeaver roads, Lambert saw groups of four-to-five students directing traffics and pushing out cars stuck in the snow.

“I wondered where the cops were that should’ve been doing that but was glad they (the students) were doing it themselves,” Lambert said. “I thought it was really admirable that they were taking it upon themselves to help other people.”

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