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Students fill Kauke arch with snow for first time in seven years

A “hearty bunch” of students band together, hoping to cancel class the following day as per school legend

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Maddi O’Neill

News Editor

On Monday night, after three hours of hauling snow, College of Wooster students managed to fill the Kauke arch to the top for the first time since 2007. The process began at 9 p.m. and ended just before midnight. By the end of the night, more than 300 people arrived to help, all using buckets, bowls and trash cans to bring loads of snow into the arch.

The effort seems to have been sparked when Chelsea Carlson ’16 and Maddy Baker ’16 each made Facebook groups inviting people to come to the arch and fill it with snow, although several campus groups reportedly had similar plans for Monday night.

Kelsey Schreck ’15 said that she joined in when she walked by the arch after her night class and saw a few people starting to fill it. “I got so excited and called some friends,” she said. “I called Josh Foerst [’15], the SGA President, who I was supposed to have a meeting with. Instead of meeting we went and filled the arch.”

The College’s radio station, WOO 91, put together a live broadcast of the event, including interviews with students, with the help of DJs Ethan Nichol ’16, Zack Moore ’16, Warner Brownfield ’16 and Adrian Rowan ’16.

As the arch became more and more crowded, some students made snowmen and forts on the lawn in front of Kauke. One group gathered snowballs and pelted other students as they continued to dump snow in the arch.

College bagpipers also joined in, playing songs as they marched over the growing pile of snow. Andrew Donlon ’14 played “Scotland the Brave” from the top at about 11:15 p.m. “It felt really good to be a part of a campus tradition as a senior,” said Carolyn Hockey ’14. “ I teared up when I heard the bagpipes.”

Matthew Ehrenberg ’16, who worked to add snow to the pile for several hours, said, “Honestly, it was one of my proudest moments here on campus as I and a few others packed the last little patch of snow to cover the top.”

Throughout the event, hundreds of students formed lines on either side of Kauke Hall to dump their snow while chants rang out, including “To The Top” and “Hearty Bunch!”

The second chant was a reference to a recent email sent out by Dean of Students Kurt Holmes, in which he referred to the Scots as “a hearty bunch” while announcing that classes would not be canceled in spite of icy conditions and frigid temperatures.

Holmes, along with Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement Henry Kreuzman and Director of Security and Protective Services (SPS) Steve Glick, was spotted at the arch-filling event.

Baker and Carlson recall an SPS officer giving them permission to continue filling the arch around 9:30 p.m. “They told us that they wouldn’t stop us from filling the arch, only that we couldn’t use dangerous things such as metal bleachers to fill it,” said Baker. “We all cheered,” she added. Shortly afterward, Dining Services brought hot chocolate for the students.

“We didn’t give the ‘OK’ as such,” Glick said. “We became aware of it when students were talking about it.” Glick also said that SPS officers only had to step in when they saw students trying to fill the other doorways to Kauke Hall. “There were still people in the building,” said Glick. “When [the students] were told that, they helped dig out those doors. I enjoyed watching the students have fun.”

Past attempts at filling the arch have ended less peacefully — in 2007, three students were arrested by Wooster police officers after the crowds at the arch became unruly.

The origins of this tradition are unclear, although according to a Daily Record article about the 2007 event, it is believed that the first arch-filling happened in response to a school administrator saying that it would take snow as high as the arch to cancel classes.

Indeed, the campus legend includes the condition that classes will be canceled if snow is packed to the top of the arch. This part of the legend was disproved by an email from College President Grant Cornwell on Tuesday morning, which read, “The arch is filled. A spirited Wooster tradition lives on. As a reward for your industry, we want to confirm that you will have further opportunities for learning this morning in classes.”

Regardless, students who were part of the event felt drawn in by the momentousness of the occasion.

“I just felt this palpable energy that I couldn’t miss this and then the moment overcame me and I went to the top of the arch and started directing,” said Luke Tonat ’15. “When you talk to your parents about college and they get a look of longing in their eye, it’s because they’re remembering experiences like that.”

Ehrenberg added, “The arch-filling … was probably one of the most memorable College of Wooster experiences I will ever have here. During the tours and researching about the school everyone hears about this almost ‘mythical’ story, but everyone always wonders if it is really possible. Well last night we proved together that it is most definitely possible to reach the top.”

 

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