After waking up throughout the night to track the snow accumulation Tuesday, I heard the dreaded sound of my alarm clock at 8:20 a.m. Once again, I peered through the window into the Calhoun courtyard, and was greeted by an overwhelming but beautiful winter wonderland. I peeked at my e-mail from the comfort of my bed. Like many other Yalies, I was eagerly hoping for a message from the higher institutional deities that my 9:25 a.m. seminar had been cancelled and I could finally have that snowball fight on Old Campus I had dreamed about. Some gullible individuals had very nearly convinced me that all classes were cancelled. “Could it be?” I thought to myself. Then reality hit me: Alas, no email. Yale just doesn’t “do” snow days. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in high school anymore.
After strapping on my snow boots and fishing my warmest winter jacket out of the dark corner of my wardrobe, I headed to the Calhoun dining hall for breakfast — through the basement, of course, in order to put off my inevitable battle with the ubiquitous white fluff outside. I spotted my favorite dining hall worker, Don, smiling enthusiastically when I walked in. The room buzzed with excitement. Back in the confines of my fifth-floor senior single, going to class seemed like a lost cause. But here, our collective solidarity suggested that there was hope for making it through the day. One of my former suitemates couldn’t even make it out of her snowed-in entryway door. Instead, she tunneled through the basement to exit via the common room, determined and resolute.
The moment of truth quickly arrived. I finished my last spoonfuls of Lucky Charms, bused my tray, and headed out into the wilderness. The doors from the common room were stuck and could only prop open enough to let one person enter or leave at a time. (I checked my e-mail one last time to confirm that my journey would not be futile. No new messages.) And so I trudged up Prospect Street alongside hordes of courageous Yalies. Despite many trips up Science Hill in the past, this one seemed uniquely arduous — partly because I had no clue where I was going. Even as a second semester senior, I couldn’t find Sachem Street. After walking down Prospect Place, back to Prospect Street, and passing 60 Sachem Street, I knew I was finally heading in the right direction. I still could not shake the feeling that I was going to be the only person in this seminar. Amidst all of the whiteness on the buildings, the trees, the streets, I saw a single individual walking in front of me. In her rainboots, she marched boldly to the building I assumed to be 10 Sachem, my destination.
I breathed a sigh of relief and entered the assigned classroom with the one other student who I had seen outside in the tundra. Slowly but surely, people began to trickle in. First there were five, then seven, then 10, 15 and ultimately 20 of us. I looked around in amazement. A few minutes later, my professor walked in and class started without a hitch. Of course, a small part of me dreamed of being in bed, like the many other students who had self-declared “snow days.” Okay, maybe even a large part of me. But it was still better than the many mornings freshman year I spent walking to Payne Whitney at 5:30 a.m. in the chilling February winter for tennis practice.
Despite the forces of Mother Nature, Yale’s students and professors walked, crawled, biked and even skiied to class. In my moment of senior-year reflection, I realized how rare and inspiring it all was. That’s what makes this place so remarkable: the dedication of its professors, administrators and dining hall workers to their jobs and to this community, not to mention students who take their efforts seriously. And that’s what I will miss the most. Nothing can stop us. The spirit of Yalies always prevails, even in the face of snowpocalypse.
Silia DeFilippis is a senior in Calhoun College.
Correction: January 13, 2011
The column “Beating the blizzard” misspelled the name and misidentified the gender of its author. The guest columnist was Silia DeFilippis and she is female.