Notes from the Newsroom: The Snow Day That Wasn't

We asked the newsroom to reflect on the crushed hopes and tumbles of Tuesday, Feb. 28 —the snow day that wasn't.

Confessions of a Snow Day Cynic

I have a confession to make: As a Midwesterner, I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to snow days. In Indiana, attending school in negative 30-degree weather accompanied by several feet of snow is the norm, an expectation. Only the fiercest of blizzards can gin up even a shred of hope for a snow day in the heart of any Midwesterner over the age of six, and even then, such hopes are rarely realized.

Being the jaded soul that I am, when I first heard whispers of a potential snow day begin to circle in hushed tones around campus, I checked the weather forecast, rolled my eyes, and continued on with my day. Five or six inches of snow? That’s child’s play. How could anyone really believe that a school in the Northeast would cancel school for a mere dusting?

Yet, try as I might, I couldn’t ignore the choruses around me foretelling a snow day. I knew it wasn’t possible, that snow days in the North were a fantasy devised to give hope to naive school children, and that I would only end up hurt if I fell for the trap. But visions of myself sipping hot cocoa and staring out at the pristine mounds of glistening snow without a care in the world haunted me –– maybe it really was possible.

Looking back, it pains me to say that I let my guard down. As I began the trek back to Newport from Nicholls-Biondi Monday evening and felt the fluffy snowflakes stick to my eyelashes, I allowed myself to believe in snow days. I practically floated past Memorial Hill, my body made light by the newfound joy I felt.

My renewed belief in the possibility of snow days lasted approximately three minutes. After a few minutes of frolicking across campus, I met a rude awakening on the ramp by Johnson Chapel as my feet connected awkwardly with the unexpectedly icy pavement and I fell face-first into the ground. Sprawled out on the concrete, reality came flooding back to me.

As I woke up Tuesday morning, I felt no urgent need to check my phone. I already knew there would be no snow day — not today, not tomorrow, not ever.                    

                             — Ethan Foster ’25

Delirious Dream State

Last night, like the rest of campus, I went to bed knowing that class would be canceled — surely. This morning, I woke up to my alarm and eagerly checked my phone for updates about the snow day, and saw an email confirming my suspicions. Gleefully, I returned to my bed and dozed off to the screeching sounds of snow plows, only to be rudely interrupted by my 8 a.m. lab alarm.

                           — Yasmin Hamilton ’24

A Snow Day Tumble

At 8:25 a.m., I set out from Marsh House, disheartened by the lack of a snow day but ready to begin the 10 minute trek to the Octagon for my 8:30 a.m. class, “Intro to Legal Theory.” I was not looking forward to the terrible trek I knew would await me once I reached the Octagon hill, but thoughts of seeing Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought Adam Sitze, one of my favorite professors on this campus, encouraged me to leave the comfort of my bed.

Alas, I was not to know that the cards were not in my favor. For as I put in my earbuds and began walking down the hill, bopping my head to TXT, I felt my boots begin to slide under me. For a moment, I was in free-fall, grappling uselessly for a hold, watching the Marsh hill go by me in a burst. And then. Thump.

Luckily, as someone with a chronic illness centered all around fainting and falling (shoutout to my fellow POTS besties <3), I knew instinctively how to force myself to fall forward rather than backward. Unluckily, I had caught myself on my palms and elbows and had rapidly started to bleed. I stayed frozen like that for a second, feeling the cold snow dig against my stinging cuts and scrapes. Pain radiating through my body, I thought about the terrible trek that awaited me at the base of the Octagon hill, where, knowing my clumsiness, I would probably suffer another tumble, this time up the hill.

Then, I stood up, dusted myself off, and walked right back up the hill to Marsh.

Sorry, Professor Sitze.

                                   — Tapti Sen ’25

Biddy would have given us a snow day :/

Living off campus has its perks: a well-stocked kitchen and groceries for much cheaper than the meal plan, both a three-legged cat with a hefty primordial pouch and a flat-coated retriever with an especially long snout, a private bathroom in which I could take bubble baths, if I wanted, though the idea of human soup has never really appealed to me. It is seldom that I feel any pain from living off campus.

However, this morning, I woke — earlier than usual, actually, my sleep interrupted by the screams of the two children I live with, who were uncontrollably excited to see the snow that nearly went up to their knees — to an email that so graciously informed me that there would not, in fact, be a snow day. So, I apologized to my cat — as I’d have to forgo our regular 15-minute morning cuddle — trekked outside, and began digging my car out of the snow that had already filled my boots and seeped through my Bob Ross socks.

I live at the top of a long driveway that is steep enough for me to slip down on foot, even when it is completely sunny and dry. I’m sure you can understand why even with all-wheel drive locked and going painfully slowly, driving down the driveway covered in six inches of snow was a very possible ticket to tumbling into the ditch that ran along the asphalt, or smacking right into a tree. So, I spent 40 minutes shoveling a safe path, while more snow fluttered down as if to further aggravate my strife. (I’m proud to say that I managed to slip just a handful of times and slid down the entire length of the driveway on my butt only once.)

I eventually made it down the driveway, to the road that had been cleared earlier in the morning but had since collected at least an inch of snow, with what should have been enough time to make the second half of my first class. But in the one minute stretch to the main road — that was comparably better salted and cleared — a car nearly slid into me and I was forced to swerve partway into a ditch — the one in which half the snow that had been cleared from the road had been piled. I am lucky to have neighbors with shovels who were willing to lend me a hand, but by the time we dug the car out (which at least managed to avoid any damage) I had entirely missed my first class and was just barely going to make it for my second.

Now the worst part about all of this wasn’t that I drove into a ditch, or that I had to miss a class that genuinely excites me, or that I still can’t feel my toes — it was having to tell the three-year-old and six-year-old who both got a snow day that I could not take them sledding. Instead, I pointed them to the carrots in the fridge for a snowman nose, and promised I would make it up to them with hot cocoa another time.

                              — Kei Lim ’25

Making the Most of the Snow Day

Vision blurry, legs jelly, joints achy, I fumble under my pillow to silence the ringing in my ears.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Then, silence.

Nine minutes later, my ears are invaded again.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Bliss.

Thoughts of class are replaced by visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Just nine more minutes. Then I'll be well rested.

Beep. Beep. Fine. Time to be productive.

It’s 10:30 a.m., and I have nowhere to be. My first class typically held on Tuesdays, Political Economy of Development, was already canceled because the professor is out of town. I have another Tuesday class, Foundations in Video Production, but that's not a concern. Today's a snow day. News staff writer Peter Finnerty ’25 prophesied it on Sunday. That same night, had gathered the data and spat the facts: Ninety-nine percent chance of a snow day on Tuesday. The weather app said there was a 100 percent chance of snow. The weather app wouldn't lie to me.

But, alas, none of the predictors could have foreseen a renegade police email. “Amherst College Open 2/28/2023.”

I'm not a physically emotive person, but I am internally grinning ear to ear. I love my video class. Three hours of hanging out with a small group of film nerds, casually learning camera tricks and light techniques, running around campus shooting videos and playing around with Premiere. Plus, this means that the semester won't be stretched out another day. I'd much rather have class now than lose a reading period day.

I scroll up a few more emails, and come across an email from my film professor. “Please read: class canceled today.”

This is great news. Between research projects, expansive readings, lengthy papers, news editing duties, and a slew of other pre-Spring Break crunch assignments, I could use the three extra hours of work time. I make a to-do list: shower, lunch, laundry, “Ethical Imagining,” “To the Lighthouse,” edit articles, “Ethical Imagining” Research, Polit Econ, return camera, dinner, publishing.

But it's only 10:40. I can take my time. I leisurely shower, put in a load of laundry, and get lunch. I live in Tyler, so by the time I get back to my room after picking up Grab-n-Go and panini-ing a burger melt in Val, my laundry’s done. Wet sheets in the dryer, sammy in my tummy, and phone in my hand, I take a short break. My classes were both canceled, I have time.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Sheets are done. Already?

Warm sheets on the bed, clothes in my dresser, and phone in my hand, I take a short break. My classes were both canceled, I have time.

After a well-earned rest, I open up my “Ethical Imagining” notes and get to work. I start to compile a list of research project ideas, but the ear invaders have returned for another round.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Time to return the camera.

I walk to Fayerweather. Return the camera. Eat french toast in Val. Walk to Tyler. Finish my notes.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Walk to Morrow, The Student’s work room. Start editing.

So much for a work day.

                            — Michael Mason ’25