When thinking back on the 2011-2012 school year at the College of William and Mary, students will definitely remember the first week of classes, and not because of orientation, the heat or move-in; rather, they will remember this first week of classes because of the host of natural disasters strangely occurring all at once — from the fire which plagued the Great Dismal Swamp, to the earthquake that hit Mineral, Va., and caused Morton to sink further into our prestigious grounds, to the great dispersal of students due to last week’s Hurricane Irene.
You may have weathered the storms in a number of way — by drinking dark and stormies or playing a board game by candlelight. However you evacuated, we are grateful that students were unharmed by the hurricane and that the College administration made such an effort to ensure students’ safety.
The evacuation, announced last Thursday, was a very stressful event for most students. The Emergency Evacuation Plan reminders from the College seemed to foreshadow the looming threat of Hurricane Irene. One lesson sure to be learned from the evacuation is that the Emergency Evacuation Plan should be taken seriously (which means you should not hurriedly list your best friend’s dorm room as your place of refuge). Now that you are back to the safety of the College, take the time to fill out the form appropriately in case another evacuation is ordered in the future.
Residence Life helped students who were concerned about where to go, recommending hotels in the Williamsburg area, as well as busing international students — most of whom had no mode of transportation and nowhere to take refuge — to Charlottesville for the duration of the evacuation. Perhaps a little more effort could have been made toward securing accommodations for lower income students, since many college students can’t afford to stay at a place like the Governor’s Inn for an extended period of time.
Dining Services kept the dining halls open a few hours after the evacuation and opened them back up as soon as students arrived, which helped students during the chaos following Hurricane Irene’s tour through campus. As seen in pictures taken over the weekend, trees and limbs scattered campus, but thanks to maintenance, there was little evidence of such a mess come Tuesday at noon. Both departments deserve praise for these actions.
In addition to the College administration’s efforts, the Williamsburg community was also a great help to students. Within hours after the announcement of the evacuation, Oleta Coach Lines scheduled two separate trips to take students to the Springfield metro stop for $25 a ticket, giving students time to plan. The company’s Facebook page is still getting positive comments from students and parents thanking the bus company for calming the hysteria of the evacuation for many students.
All in all, the College and the Williamsburg community did a great job dealing with Hurricane Irene by protecting the students and protecting the campus.
And we can all rejoice that this year will not be remembered as the year fall break was canceled.