After a major snow storm struck on Wednesday, March 7, the University provided overnight housing accommodations for several dining staff members in both on- and off-campus locations.
According to acting University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss, approximately 60 Campus Dining workers who chose to stay overnight were accommodated at local hotels, such as Nassau Inn and Palmer House, as well as the Graduate College. However, Hotchkiss also emphasized in a email statement that several University employees “worked during the night to clear campus roads and walks to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff.”
Accommodation arrangements for Campus Dining workers were finalized by Tuesday night, Hotchkiss added.
Although Rockefeller and Mathey dining staff member Valeria Sykes has worked at the University for the past forty years, she has only been housed by the University twice in response to blizzards. She normally opts for the 20 to 30-minute drive back to her home in Ewing, New Jersey. However, on Wednesday night after she had finished a triple shift, she explained that her typical drive home could easily have become a two-and-a-half hour to three-hour drive due to the heavy snow and the late hour.
Last year was the first time that Sykes stayed on campus, when she was offered an individual room in the Graduate School. Last March, other workers in the multipurpose room of Frist Campus Center on cots brought over from Dillon Gymnasium. While Sykes “was good with [the] accommodations” offered last year, her accommodations this year in Palmer House were even better.
Sykes was “quite surprised and pleased” with the accommodations. Her “very comfortable, large room” included a “nice bathroom and office,” as well as a small desk area. While breakfast at 7:30 a.m. was included with her stay, Sykes had to be at work by 6:30 a.m. She was satisfied nevertheless.
Another Rockefeller and Mathey dining staff member, Maritere Bolanos, who lives 25 minutes away in Trenton, echoed similar sentiments about the room that she shared with co-worker Reyna Yildiz in Peacock Inn. Yildiz lives 30 minutes away in East Windsor, New Jersey.
Although there was only one large bed and a pull-out bed in Bolanos and Yildiz’s room, Bolanos described the accommodations as a “nice hotel” with “very good housing.” Breakfast was also included with their stay.
Yildiz continued to explain that in previous years, university personnel have stayed in Dillon Gym or the Graduate School.
Oxene Gehrard, a Butler and Wilson College dining hall staff member, stayed in Nassau Inn on Wednesday night, while Forbes College dining hall staff member Stanley Johnson explained that only two dining hall staff members from Forbes College stayed overnight.
“The University is always working to identify the best ways to meet the unique challenges presented by each storm and accommodated our hard-working employees,” Hotchkiss wrote in an email statement.
Staff Writers Ivy Truong and Hannah Wang contributed reporting.