Two weeks ago, the East Coast got hit with Winter Storm Jonas. I’ve grown up on the East Coast my whole life and usually when meteorologists predict a wild storm, the storm usually drifts out into the ocean and doesn’t come close to the snow predictions. So, all of that scrambling to get an ample supply of milk, bread, and toilet paper was done in vain. However, Winter Storm Jonas did not disappoint my students nor my shovel.
As a first year Residence Director, this was my first big winter storm that I had to prep for. I have learned a lot about the concerns of an RD during a snow storm and am excited to share them with you all today!
To start, I’ve learned that you can never underestimate the power of spontaneous programs. When I met with my staff the Tuesday before the storm hit we discussed all the different programs that they were interested in hosting while we got snowed in. I was so impressed by their ideas that not only met the needs of our residents, but also kept them engaged the whole weekend. Some of the program highlights that the RAs in my building and others on campus were: Harry Potter Weekend, Hot Cocoa & DIY Snowflakes, Search & Finds, Coloring Snow, Board Game Nights, and Late Night Breakfasts! If that isn’t a perk to living on campus, I don’t know what is.
I also have learned to do your shopping ahead of time. After my RAs told me what their programming ideas were, I decided to hit up our local Walmart and grab the essentials. I went a few days before the storm to avoid the crowds and stocked my building with plates, cups, snacks, drinks, and craft supplies. I bought an assortment of supplies so my students could have snacks and my RAs could get creative with their programs.
Campus programming is essential, especially in a snow storm. I was really proud of our campus activities board for continuing with their event that they had planned for the weekend. They held an amazing casino night with the help of A2ZCasinos, and I got to learn how to deal roulette. It also kept students safe by offering an alternative plan instead of engaging in reckless behavior! Shout out to all of those who planned that event.
Check your sidewalks… we got about 36 inches of snow at Shippensburg University. There was just so much snow that we didn’t know what to do with it. However, our students still had to walk to the dining hall and eventually their classes so I learned how to stay connected with the Grounds Crew and make sure all of my sidewalks were cleared and salted.
Check in on your staff’s morale During a snow storm, I think we can put a lot of pressure on our RAs to be present in the building and to program (even when they aren’t on duty). Now, I totally understand why RAs play an essential role in students’ safety during a snow storm, but I didn’t want to just assume my staff was on the same developmental page that I was on. When my staff and I met to do prep work for the storm I asked them how they wanted to do programming and who wanted to take point. By checking in with them, I showed them respect. Also on a side note, I also made them homemade donuts (staff inside joke) and that also boosted up their happy levels!
Get shovels… I think we used shovels more than we used carts on opening weekend (just kidding)! But, seriously I had three shovels and they were used literally ALL weekend. Whether it was to help residents dig out their cars, dig out our door steps, or clear a path to the dining hall. The snow was coming down in huge quantities, so sometimes it would take the Grounds Crew a little longer to get to us. But, I for one wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity for a solid work out. So, if your building doesn’t have any shovels in storage, I would highly recommend the investment.
When your college or university is predicted to get a major storm, the six lessons above really helped me get in gear when it came to prep work. Don’t wait until the last minute to prep for a snow storm or you will be stuck in a line at Walmart for 30 minutes+! Have a good weekend folks!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.