Early birds make campus run


Timothy Lin

To make campus run, student employees wake up incredibly early.

For most Calvin students, an early rise means getting up for a pesky 8 a.m. class or a morning trip to the gym. Behind the scenes, however, some students make an even earlier rise to ensure campus is ready for the day. 

Three times a week at 6 a.m., when the sun has yet to rise and the tater tots have yet to fry, junior philosophy and sociology student Matthew Chandra makes his way from his apartment in Knollcrest East to Knollcrest Dining Hall for his shift as a student supervisor. Chandra heaves a sigh of relief when he finally gets out of the freezing cold and into the warmth of the stirring hall. Arriving before the other student workers, he’s responsible for connecting with the full-time workers and determining position assignments for his co-workers. To be ready to serve an influx of breakfast-seeking students, Chandra and his co-workers have to prepare by checking milk, setting out pancake paraphernalia and prepping the cereal stations. 

For Haim Hong, a sophomore studying computer science, the morning shift can be a mixed bag. “As long as you are able to wake up, it’s usually fine,” Hong said. For Hong, the breakfast shifts are “a little bit more chill” compared to the four-hour dinner shifts, as long as he gets to keep away from scrambling eggs in the kitchen or working the dish line inside the steamy and industrial dish-room.

A full belly isn’t the only thing necessary for a campus to run, however. Cereal and milk get students nowhere if the lake effect drowns the campus in snow. In the case of a ‘snow event,’ the grounds department mobilizes in the early hours of the morning and wages war with hulking tractors and shovels. While driveways and paths are usually cleared by machinery, the grounds department employs a team of students to shovel entryways around campus.

Jeffrey Erickson, a senior majoring in financial planning, is in his third year as part of the snow plowing squad. He wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and follows a set route around campus. “The challenge is simply just getting out of bed. After that everything else is pretty easy,” Erickson said. The shoveling route that Erickson and his partner follow, however, spans all the academic buildings — covering the longest distance and more doors than any other route. 

To Erickson, being an early bird has its silver linings. “The mornings are peaceful. My favorite time is around 7:00 a.m. when the sun starts to barely come up and the campus is completely empty. I love being outside with just my thoughts and a shovel. It’s part of the reason I am going on my third year as part of the snow shoveling squad,” he said. Although he does need to take a late afternoon nap after the morning shifts, Erickson said the work also leads to a productive day and a sense of accomplishment. “It’s a rewarding feeling knowing I got up and got something done when most people are still in bed,” Erickson said.

For Chandra, the silver lining of early-morning work is that the rest of his day is free. “Once I get on with my day, I often have enough adrenaline to keep me going until late evening,” he said. 

“The pro of it is that you get to wake up earlier, and the con of it is that you do have to wake up earlier,” Hong said.