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AU Students Weather the Storm

American University sign covered in snow

The biggest snow storm to hit Washington, DC in a decade closed the University early on February 5th, three days after Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and warned of six more weeks of winter. With most staff and faculty home to ride out the storm, what should college students living on campus expect?  How long will the storm last? Will the dining hall be open? What about classes?

The ensuing six days would dump a record amount of snow on the Washington DC area and shut down the entire city including the Metro System, Union Station and Reagan National, Dulles and BWI airports. Add to this blockbuster storm canceled classes and limited staff able to get to campus and you have a very interesting scenario.

For the more than 3,500 students living on AU's campus, the task of maintaining normalcy during the storm fell to Executive Director of Housing and Dining Programs Chris Moody, and his staff of Resident Directors, the Assistant Director for South Campus and 68 RAs, approx 50 desk receptionists and 15 staff who work in the Perch, NARC (North Area Recreation Center) and TARC (Tenley Area Recreation Center).  Together they made sure the residence halls remained a comfortable place to weather the storm.

In addition to the great work in the residence halls, Housing and Dining staff were proactive in helping find hotels and rooms at Tenley for AU's essential personnel.  This ensured Facilities, Public Safety and  Bon Appetit staff members were able to get to campus to clear sidewalks, make sure utilities functioned properly, and food service was available for students living on campus.

Cabin fever could have been unbearable had it not been for the great work of the University Center staff, including Patrick Ledesma, Assistant Director and his 25 student staff members.  They were able to provide plenty of entertainment in the Mary Graydon Center throughout the storm.  The Friday evening the storm began University Center films had a showing of "Good Hair" in collaboration with Multicultural Affairs for Black History month. On Saturday, the AU Gamers hosted activities on the 2nd floor of MGC despite the storm.   On Sunday, there was a Super Bowl Party in the Tavern with Bon Appetit providing chips and snacks.

As the second storm blew through, the University Center staff worked with AU Health Educator Kate DiEmido (Student Health Center) to promote via email listserves and Facebook the events planned in the Mary Graydon Center.  There were movies marathons in the Tavern beginning Tuesday night - with 5 films including the Student Union Board (SUB) Cinema's showing of Twilight: New Moon, with attendance of upwards of 200 by the end.  On Wednesday evening, the University Center showed the complete Lord of the Rings Trilogy in the Tavern from 3pm until 1am with steady attendance.  For those not up for movies, video games and board games were made available through the Mary Graydon Center Info Desk for use in the 2nd floor MGC rooms.  A Ski Lodge Party, pre-valentine's day movies and video game tournaments will take place after the AU Men's Basketball game Thursday evening in the Tavern with  Bon Appetit providing free hot chocolate and cookies.

With the storm now over, and  classes due to resume soon, it is safe to say that AU students were able to weather the storm thanks to the great efforts of AU's staff and student workers.  Is it Spring Break yet?