Polar vortex brings campus to a two-day standstill

Back to Article
Back to Article

Polar vortex brings campus to a two-day standstill

Margaret Moran

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In anticipation of windchill temperatures expected to reach as low as 70 degrees below zero, Provost Karine Moe canceled Tuesday and Wednesday classes on Monday night. At about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, Moe canceled Thursday morning classes as well.

The cold spell has brought several Midwestern cities to their lowest temperatures in decades, with the Twin Cities expected to hit a temperature of 30 degrees below zero for the first time since 1996.

Macalester is not the only Twin Cities college feeling the effects of the frigid weather. The University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University are just some of the other local universities that have canceled classes. On top of colleges, Saint Paul Public Schools were closed Monday through Thursday.

Countless business across the Twin Cities closed as a result of the weather. The United States Postal Service did not deliver mail in Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.

On campus, the Program Board postponed first year, sophomore and junior class nights. Meanwhile, MCSG called off their first Legislative Body (LB) meeting of the semester and due to extreme cold, The Mac Weekly will not run a print edition of its first issue of spring 2019.

With the exceptions of the Campus Center and the residence halls, campus amenities including the DeWitt Wallace Library, the Leonard Center and academic buildings were closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

As the only dining option on campus, Café Mac workers came into work on both Tuesday and Wednesday after making minor modifications to their hours. On Wednesday night, the Café stayed open from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., and on Thursday they opened for a brunch meal from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Café Manager Maggie Creel served students at The Grille on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. Creel drove into St. Paul from Edina both mornings and noted the cold affecting the road conditions.

“It wasn’t so much ice as it was just…cold,” Creel said. “There was snow, and it was just very cold. ‘Cause there wasn’t any warm for [the snow] to melt on…It was just slick, packed-down snow.”

Creel worked at a Buffalo Wild Wings in the Twin Cities for five years prior to starting with Bon Appétit and remembers having to drive to work in blizzards. She said that, despite cold temperatures outside, she never seriously considered calling off from work.

“I remember when I was in college and seeing the people that worked in the dining hall and they were working to make sure we had food to eat,” Creel said. “So if we closed, then you guys wouldn’t have anything to eat, and not everyone can live off of ramen and mac-and-cheese for a while.”

Creel said that she and her Bon Appétit management team helped employees who were uncomfortable driving into work this week modify their schedules.

“We as a management team have [been] very good about looking and seeing who we need,” Creel said. “We changed our hours for today and tomorrow, so we’ve called off people that maybe aren’t needed so they won’t have to come into work, and we’re very understanding.”

“We obviously want to make sure that our people are safe in this kind of weather,” she said. “The college has been very nice and very good about working with us with the hours changing.”

To make up for the closures, Residential Life staff planned a variety of social engagements for students living in the dorms including pizza parties, board games, movie marathons, and a jam session.

“Residential Life’s priority is to ensure students’ safety during this extreme weather while providing ample social engagements for communities to bond,” Assistant Dean of Residential Life Coco Du wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly on Wednesday morning.

“Our staff reported all community spaces are utilized by students and staff who are socializing with each other yesterday and we anticipate to see the same today,” Du continued.

Students also found their own ways to keep busy during the campus shutdown.

Will Enin ’22, a native of Fontana, California, spent all of Tuesday secluded in his Dupre double. A gaming PC and boxes from The Grille were piled on his desk and bed.

“As you can see there, I have my food for the next two days,” Enin said. “I got my stockpile of chicken tenders from Café Mac.”

“Luckily, there was a Dragonball Z world tour that ended a couple weeks ago, so I have at least 13 hours of gameplay to go through.”

Just down the hall, a dozen freshmen sat in Tara Mercene’s ’22 room on Tuesday. Mercene had just ordered three extra large pizzas, bonus chicken wings and a large cookie pizza for the group.

“It’s going to take them at least an hour to deliver,” Marc Mutka ’22 said. “I hope this food lasts us until tomorrow.”

“Why did I choose Mac instead of the University of Hawaii?” Mercene said.

Mercene wasn’t the only first-year dreaming of warmer weather.

“I’ve personally never been in weather this cold,” said Lizbet Jacobo ’22. Jacobo is from San Francisco, California, and had never seen snow before she came to Macalester.

“I knew before coming here that it would be cold, but I thought that the snow would be the reason for it feeling 20 degrees colder. I didn’t expect the wind to cut right through you.”