MU residential hall advisers turn 'situationally critical' in blizzard

Friday, February 4, 2011 | 5:14 p.m. CST; updated 9:24 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 20, 2012
MU peer advisers Karen Bossaller and Sarah Ely mug for the camera while shoveling the walk in front of Laws Residence Hall.

COLUMBIA — Nathan Anton awoke Tuesday morning to loud knocking from his residential hall coordinator, Patrick Patterson.

It was time to start shoveling snow.

“It was my first college snow day, and I really wanted to sleep in,” Anton said.

He put on three pairs of socks, stuffed his feet into his tennis shoes and bundled himself into multiple hooded sweatshirts.

“I don’t have any official snow gear,” said Anton, a native of St. Louis. “I’m really not down for snow.”

As peer adviser in Hatch Hall, an MU residential hall, Anton and all other peer and community advisers are considered “situationally critical” staff. During the snowstorm they assumed the roles of landscaper, custodian and cook without additional pay, Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said.

“I think some of the students saw the sidewalks were clear and thought a tractor plowed it, but we were out there physically shoveling during the snow,” Anton said.

Across campus at Laws Hall, peer adviser Sarah Ely spent her days shoveling as well.

“Our job is focused on helping students in the building, but it was interesting to see how we could make a difference outside,” Ely said.

The staff was on call around the clock. It worked with the dining halls, as many employees were not able to make it to work.

Anton worked at Baja Grill on Wednesday.

“I had no idea what to do when I got there, so they made me do the dishes,” Anton said.

He said the Baja staff would have been there most of the night closing without the additional help.

“We were truly helping the dining hall staff, and that made it worth it,” Anton said.

By Wednesday morning the snow had slowed.

“We thought that we were done shoveling, and we’d get some freedom,” Anton said.

But the staff’s responsibilities shifted inside to custodial duties: mopping puddles created by snowy boots, vacuuming and collecting trash. They worked to make the best of it.

“The staff really had fun together playing in the snow and being together. It was a bonding experience, an out-of-the-ordinary hangout,” Ely said.

The staff’s number one job was to keep students safe.

“The PAs and CAs are also students, so while most students were getting a lot of rest, they were working to keep them safe,” Minor said.

Anton said their job as advisers in the residential halls really didn’t change that much.

“As staff members we definitely have a purpose, and that’s to always be there for our residents when they need us,” Anton said. “It was an experience I’ll never forget.”

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