Rumors are a constant resource of news, whether true or false. They can be slanderous, they can have no meaning at all, and some can ruin reputations. Two particular rumors I heard dealt with university policies regarding recreational activities in the snow. When I heard, I had to investigate.
Apparently, some people had a longer holiday break than other students. On Thursday of exam week, I had Little Honda all packed up and ready to blast out of Cullowhee. To make a boring story short, I took the exam, skipped to Little Honda, and headed home without looking back. At that point, I was unaware of what I had escaped. Hours later, everyone else still in Cullowhee experienced the power of Mother Nature. According to website Weather Underground, Mother Nature poured a mix of snow and rain on Cullowhee for over nineteen hours straight and continued through the weekend.
Snow hit Western Carolina on the worst day, the final day of exams, the day Western Carolina was supposed to completely shut down for winter. Roads were closed down, exams were cancelled, and it was too scary to drive. Facebook statuses read “stuck @ college,” “snowed in 4 idk how long,” and “Help! I’m stuck in da Whee!” For some students, that weekend topped their list of “The Longest Weekends of My Life.”
As much as I wanted to get home, snow still would have been a blessing as it is hard to come by in Gaston County. We did, in fact, get a cup’s worth of Cullowhee’s snow, but there is nothing like the heaps that were found on University Way. Me, I’m still a kid at heart and when it really snows, I hit the outdoors and build snow families, have epic snowball fights, and mess around until several body parts are numb. I assumed snowed-in students would do the same until I heard of rumored university policies: snowball fights are not allowed and building a snowman is considered destruction of campus grounds. They were posted on flyers across the walls of Walker dorm. My reaction? “I beg your pardon?!” Since when does a happy-go-lucky snowman with a carrot nose become destroyed property? And as long as you’re not packing ice in those snowballs, ever heard of Snow Day recreational activities? What are the kids supposed to do? Oh, right, “act like adults, act mature.” Um… you should meet my mom!
I heard about the flyers from a friend. Not that I don’t trust him, but you can only believe half of what you read, and I tend to question everything I hear. So, are these policies real, why do they exist, and are they enforced? I scoured the university policy pages on Western Carolina’s website and found nothing. So, I went to the head Catamount: Chancellor John W. Bardo. Surprisingly, I received a responding email from Bardo saying, “I have not heard those rumors… I am aware of issues on a number of campuses regarding snowballs. I am not aware of any issue with snowmen or playing in the snow.”
He referred me to Dr. H. Samuel Miller, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, who did some digging for me. According to Miller, actions against snowball fights are not located in university policy literature, but instead in the Student Code of Conduct. Under the heading of “Prohibited Conduct,” number seventeen once stated, “Snowballing on any university premises other than the intramural fields” is forbidden (Well, now you know where to have an epic snowball fight! Meet you there!). Miller continued to write that the specific snowball rule was removed “when a new Code of Conduct was implemented because we felt the Code already covered harming others, damaging property, etc. We really aren’t sure why it (snowball fighting) was specifically listed, but I would guess it goes back to some incident…” Tying up loose ends, Millers finished with he also did not know anything about rules against snowmen.
So, why would a RD of Walker Hall put up a flyer for prohibited actions that the Vice Chancellor does not even know about? Well, she didn’t. Laura Ansley, RD of Walker Hall, explained there are no rules against snowman-building. Flyers claiming such were either not “official” flyers or never existed. It is a ridiculous rumor, and nowadays, one can have a snowball fight just about anywhere on campus as long as one is not throwing them to maliciously harm another.
So there you have it! Personally, I am relieved Frosty has not been expelled from the school for his carrot nose and coal eyes. In addition, forget walking to the Intramural Fields! Next time it snows, look for me outside of Walker having the best snowball fight Western has ever seen!
So for those of you who believed or heard that the university was trying to turn you into an unimaginative, no-fun-having adult, you are-from the moment you read this-allowed to have as much good natured, innocent fun on any snow day you wish. Enjoy!