Harvard Weathers March Nor'Easter

HUDS employess hole up

While students frolicked in the snow yesterday and enjoyed the many canceled classes, dining hall workers did not get a day off.

"All of Harvard could shut down and Dining Sevices would still be open," Customer Service Manager Brad Hartman says.

"Even in the blizzard of '78 we were serving breakfast," says Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Alix McNitt.

HUDS wasn't going to let a puny nine inches prevent meals from being served.

When HUDS management heard of the looming storm, they began to formulate contingency plans for their employees.

"The first thing we tried to figure out was who among our managers and staff would like to stay over. So the managers talked with the staff about whether they would rather go home or stay over," McNitt says.

The manager of each dining hall contacted the superintendent and Master of the House to find out whether there were any rooms available. HUDS also reserved 14 rooms at the Harvard Square Hotel as a backup, according to McNitt.

"We tried to come up with as many options as possible so that our staff is safe and so that the students can be fed the next day," she says.

But when the storm hit, less than 10 staffers stayed at the hotel. The rest of the reservations were cancelled.

"I know that because the weather did not to turn out to be as severe as originally forecasted, one manager who had a room at the hotel made a decision at 6:30 to go home," Associate Director of Residential Dining Rosemary McGahey says.

Almost a dozen other staffers stayed at different houses.

In Adams House, bunk beds were brough into a private dining hall for one of the hourly Adams dining hall staff. He was joined by "a few others, proably security or cleaning staff," McGahee says.

The kitchen was made available to the staff all night. The Adams overnight guests made sandwiches before they went to bed, McGahee says.

A cook from Lowell and Wintrhop Houses decided to stay in Winthrop House rather than make the commute to New Hampshire and back in the morning.

Three HUDS employees stayed overnight in Dunster House and two slept in a Quincy House guest suite.

But some workers questioned why certain employees stayed in cushy hotel rooms while other slept in dorm rooms and makeshift beds in dining halls.

"We should be treated better because we left our families to stay here for the students," Lia Fajardo says, a dining hall worker in Quincy house who stayed Monday night in Quincy House suite.

"Last time there was a blizzard, they sent us to a hotel. We went to a restaurant and then gave the bill to the manager," she says.

This time, the student room where Fajardo stayed was missing sheets, pilows, and pillowcases. Anna Braga, the other HUDS staffer who stayed in the Quincy suite, had to go get sheets from a room of supplies for Quincy staff.

Last night though, Braga made the half hour commute to her home in Everett.

"I'll be happy to see my two year old grand daughter," she says.

But for HUDS, the problems posed by the "storm of the century" are far from over.

"From our standpoint, we're still in the middle of this," McNitt says. "We've still got to serve breakfast tomorrow."