Snow Czars: Powder to the People

With the piling midwinter snow comes the snow czars, a group of students who organize fellow peers to shovel snow. The snow czars’ initiative aims to create an equitable way of sharing the snow shoveling responsibility on Andover’s campus.

“It’s just necessary work in terms of trying to shovel out our campus whenever we have some sort of storm. I also think it’s in line with our school’s philosophy around work duty, living in a community, and dorm jobs. These are obligations we have to each other to keep this place safe and accessible” said Jennifer Elliott ’94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students.

According to Paul Murphy ’84, Instructor in Mathematics, the Andover students’ community engagement for snow shoveling has been active in the past as well. During a blizzard in 1978, the town of Andover cancelled school for a week and Andover students helped shovel snow for the town.

The responsibility of the snow czars can vary frequently as it is contingent on several variables. There is a wide range of dorm sizes on campus, from three-person dorms to 44-person dorms, and the amount of snow being shoveled can differ greatly. The snow czars’ duty also depends on the amount of snowfall each year.

“We have had years when we’ve had tons of snow. So, kids have had to shovel a lot. Then, we’ve had years when we’ve only had a couple of storms and so we just rely upon the leadership in the dorm,” said Elliott.

The snow czars, however, do not work alone in fulfilling their duties. A sense of community and teamwork is required to accomplish the common goal. As such, the Office of the Physical Plant (O.P.P.) works to aid the snow czars’ initiative by helping plow snow off the roads as well.

“With weather like this, there’s staff that works 24 hours at a time sometimes to keep everything clear and make sure we can move about the campus, so I think it’s good that the students take part in that,” said Katherine Matheson, Instructor in Spanish and House Counselor in Nathan Hale House.

Matheson said she believes that the snow czar roles help ensure that the Andover community works together in times of need. Matheson attributes a benefit of the initiative to be the shared sense of commitment.

“I think it’s good that students share the responsibility for keeping the walkways clear. We have dorm duties and stuff like that, but I think this is just something else to kind of make sure that everybody’s doing their part of campus” said Matheson.

Bill Qin ’19, a proctor in Stuart House, is a snow czar. Qin says he has a set system in place where each hall of six or seven people shovel on a rotating basis. According to Qin, it is the student’s duty to keep the snow on campus organized such that potential accidents or injuries may be prevented.

“[Stuart House] is a big dorm, 40-something guys live here. We don’t want to let that power go to waste. If you look at the front room board, we have a system in place where we rotate physically around the dorm and, my hall is up next… It is important that us as students do our part to keep our campus clean and safe to walk on so we don’t trip and fall as we go from class to class,” said Qin.

Students like Eliza Dow ’22 found the benefits of the snow czars program to be evident, especially when based on her personal experience.

“Snow czars kind of saved [us] today when our fire alarm [in Nathan Hale House] went off at 7:30 a.m. in the morning, the day after it snowed a foot. If the snow czars hadn’t told the other dormmates to shovel, then all the people who decided to wear flip flops out during the fire alarm would have had their toes frozen off,” said Dow.