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Toughing it out through wintry conditions

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Opinions, Top Stories


Hearing and watching coverage about the devastation in Atlanta and other areas of the South from this past week creates a certain pride for those residing in the Northeast. No, General Sherman has not risen from his grave to march again through Georgia toward the sea, leaving a path of destruction and fire behind him. Instead, snow and ice have been the culprit for thousands of abandoned cars throughout Alabama and Georgia and a cloud of dread hanging over the deep South. While it is important to realize that these areas do not typically receive this sort of wintry weather and were ill-prepared to clear snow and ice from the roads, it is hard not to see what it says about us. It offers a time to recognize just exactly how much we, as part of the Brandeis community, overcome each time the weather turns sour.

Last week, the first occurrence of inclement weather which altered schedules took place for this academic year. Classes resumed by 11 a.m., and everything was back to normal. Admittedly, I was upset that the delay was not pushed back later, since my first class was at 11; it goes to show how much is expected of everyone here to tough it out. Someone on my Facebook newsfeed who attends Clemson in South Carolina has had class canceled for two days in a row due to this snow storm, just because there is still snow on the grass. Yes, there have been times here at Brandeis that the entire day is canceled due to over a foot of snow falling, but that does not happen as often as I would hope. And with the way New England weather is, there always seems to be another storm in the forecast, just aiming to slow us down.

Nothing will slow us down, so don’t bother Winter Storm Leon, or whatever name holed-up meteorologists give to snow storms these days.

There have been a few times when non-essential staff are excused early for the evening due to an upcoming storm. I don’t exactly know who constitutes as “non-essential,” since they are most likely the administrative staff that get paid a respectable wage. The essentials are the professors who still have classes to teach and the food-service staff, since there might be a revolt if the dining halls were to close due to snow.

I am always amazed that the facilities staff arrives right on time to clean the dorms whenever there is a storm, displaying the overall resilience of not just the Brandeis community, but the entirety of Massachusetts, having roads cleared and mass transit up and running for those who need to get to work.

We not only have the state transit workers to thank for allowing us to get through an icy day, but also the salt. Yes, rock salt, the very thing that is worth its weight in gold in Georgia right now. That is really what inspires me daily to finish all 75 pages of readings I have each night for class. Whenever I wish I could simply quit school, hike the Andes and live off the fat of the land, I am reminded of the rock salt. The rock salt never quits; it is constantly fighting the good fight against the perils of black ice and falling while walking to class, saving you from years of torment and embarrassment.

Last week, the most unbelievable sight I had ever witnessed revealed itself to me one morning in the freezing walk to class. There was liquid water on the ground, and it was less than 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I was stunned. I thought for sure that this was impossible and knew that it was something I wouldn’t see every day. I wanted to take a picture of this awe-inspiring scene in the alley between the Castle and Schwartz Hall, but my phone had died due to the frigid temperatures. Yet I do not need photographic evidence to prove which hero was responsible for this miraculous feat of strength. I believe I can speak for everyone in saying that we all knew that there was a nice pile of rock salt in that puddle doing the one job that no one else can.

I am led to believe that Massachusetts has magic salt, because nothing of this earth can possibly keep water from freezing in single-digit wind chills. I wish to take a bag, no, multiple bags, home with me to New Jersey for the upcoming break to rid my driveway of ice. This might be the greatest discovery I have while here at Brandeis—a completely revolutionary rock salt.

While no one is eager to wake up on a snowy day to not see an email about classes being canceled and having to brave the cold and wind walking up the Rabb steps, it shows something about the resolve of the community that, no matter the conditions, we are always ready to go. Whether that is just to get to class or head out to feed the homeless of Waltham, Brandeis students, and really the general population of the Boston metropolitan area, are resilient.

Nothing illustrates this more than the response to the Marathon Bombings last year. A day set aside for celebration and community, only to be thunderstruck by an act of complete cowardice, presents the ultimate trial for a city. Boston came back as resolute and stable as before, and that sentiment also spreads out to Brandeis. So whether there is some snow and ice or an act of terror, not much can slow us down, and any Brandeis student should be proud of that.