Thanks to Northeastern’s ‘true heroes’

When snowstorms force the cancellation of classes and close business offices, many members of the Northeastern community spring into action to ensure the Boston campus doesn’t completely shut down.

In fact, hundreds of dedicated staff members in departments such as facilities, dining services, and residential life still make their way to work to ensure the campus is safe and that student services are maintained.

“The men and women who maintain our campus are true heroes,” President Joseph E. Aoun said. “They work tirelessly and in difficult conditions to make sure Northeastern is open, safe, and advancing its mission. I salute them.”

Northeastern’s snow-removal team has been working 24/7 to keep campus safe for students, faculty, and staff. Over the past three weeks, the crew has utilized 120 tons of rock salt and 50 pieces of heavy equipment to clear snow from all 66 acres of campus land.

“I’m lucky to be on a team that takes great pride in what it does,” said Jack Malone, senior director of facilities services. “It’s the guy in the corner doing all the work that should get all the credit.”

Snowy Campus

Students walk through campus on Tuesday after another snowstorm forced classes to be canceled this winter. Photo by Maria Amasanti

No amount of snow will keep Angela Bello, a Stetson West Eatery food service worker, from making sure students—or her “kids” as she calls them—are fed. “I’m not going to let them starve,” she said.

During the recent snowstorms, one of the first things students ask Bello is how she got to campus. In some cases it was by foot after an hour-long trek from Roxbury.

“It’s worth it,” Bello said, adding the students are always grateful. “I’m very happy to work here.”

Dining Services served more than 6,000 meals on Monday and Tuesday this week, and Stetson was so crowded Monday evening that the staff opened Xhibition Kitchen to handle the overflow.

Jacob Nolan, SSH’17, ventured to International Village during the snowstorm this week because he couldn’t go out for groceries. “Everyone who was working there was fantastic and very friendly,” said Nolan, a third-year student in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “They were part of the reason I was able to eat.”

Students at International Village Tuesday morning were very excited when Aoun paid them a visit:

While some students seek refuge in the dining halls, others like Hannah Silk, S’15, spend their time in the Curry Student Center, which was open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

She spent no fewer than 14 hours in Curry during the two snow days, preparing for a neurobiology exam. “Keeping the CSC open has been a godsend,” said Silk, a fifth-year psychology major. “I can’t study in my apartment due to distractions and I needed to come to campus to work.”

The Marino Center’s fitness facility also stays open on snow days. On Monday about 2,600 people dropped by Marino to work out, said Justin Wright, Marino’s student personnel director, while that number rose to about 3,000 on Tuesday.

“It’s nice to see those numbers because it justifies us staying open on snow days,” Wright said, noting that some 4,000 people swipe into Marino on a typical day. “It’s nice to provide this service and to know that all the hard work my staff and I do is utilized.”

Wright also acknowledged the snow-removal team’s efforts, noting that when he walks to the Marino Center during snowstorms the campus sidewalks are the cleanest on his route.

Kenny Andrea, an emergency and standby power systems electrical technician at the university, was on campus from Sunday through Tuesday tracking the vital signs of Northeastern’s emergency generators.

“It’s all about the safety of the students,” he said, noting that his son, James, is a second-year student in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “What do you do if the power goes out in a building like East Village, with 17 floors and 600 beds?”

Check out our “Snow Heroes” page to meet some more Northeastern staff who worked during all the snow days this winter.