by Emily Goodell
Due to the aftermath of the most damaging windstorm to hit Whitworth’s campus, 650 students were evacuated from their dorms.
Classes were cancelled for two days in order to deal with the damage and power loss. The university lost 126 trees during the storm, including several power lines that left many students without power for days, according to last Wednesday’s ASWU meeting.
“I live in Warren and during the windstorm, a bunch of us in Warren were like watching the trees fall back and forth,” freshman Jesse Domingo said. “And it was kind of like we were just watching our whole campus be destroyed, which was sad, but entertaining at the same time.”
When the storm first began, students were kept updated through the blue light speakers and emergency response text messages and emails.
The first text message to be received by students, at 12:12 p.m. on Tuesday read, “Whitworth Alert: is is not a drill. Because of a fallen tree and high wind in the area, please evacuate the loop area. Use caution if outside or driving.”
A text message requested that students go immediately to their place of residence and take shelter until further notice was received by students at 12:37 p.m.
Cowles Memorial Library, Hawthorne Hall and the Lindaman Center were hit by trees and to deal with the logistical and safety issues of having students living in powerless dorms, the school evacuated hundreds of students into residence halls with power or houses off campus.
“For the first time in my presidency, I cancelled classes, and we began the clean-up,” President Beck Taylor said in the December issue of the Mind and Heart newsletter. “Power was restored to campus late Wednesday night, after we’d moved 600 students to warmer dorms, not wanting them to spend another powerless, cold night in dark residence halls.”
In order to accommodate the influx of fleeing students, mattresses from powerless dorms were moved to provide sleeping arrangements for displaced students.
“That was when it stopped being fun,” freshman Elisah Winnika said. “I was kind of like, ‘Oh this is kind of like exciting!’ and then it was like ‘Now you have to move out of your dorms.’ And I was like ‘Okay. is is not exciting. is is stupid and annoying.’”
All classes resumed on Thursday, Nov. 19, leaving many students upset. Some students said they did not feel this was the right call on the university’s part.
“I was upset that classes were held so soon after the storm,” freshman Paige Rohrbach said. “I feel like whomever was deciding to make us go back thought it would get us back into the swing of things faster but I feel like it put unneeded worries on all of the students.”
“Students might be disappointed that we’re attempting to get back to some sense of normalcy, but we think it’s best to continue the educational programs to the extent we can,” Taylor said in a Nov. 18 Facebook post.
ASWU President Justin Botejue and Executive Vice President Chase Weholt brought snacks to displaced residents the night they had to evacuate from their residence halls. Botejue said that he disagreed with the university’s decision to resume classes Thursday.
“Though I understand why administration would like to have classes the day after our windstorm, I would like to advocate on behalf of all students,” Botejue said. “I would like to say that for their common good, we should have postponed classes until Friday just to give us a little bit more time to adjust, and professors as well.”
In order to help off-campus students affected by the power loss, Sodexo provided free meals for three days for faculty, staff and students.
Contact Emily Goodell at email@example.com