If you can read this, stay away from AU!


By Maaz Qureshi

The announcement came at 14:21. “AU Alert: On Tuesday, January 29 American University will close at 3:00 pm.” I can remember when the news broke there was a lot of happiness. The fraternities quickly organized a number of darties, parties, and “seshes” to celebrate.

However, I, along with the majority of McDowell 5th floor, was content sitting in the lounge and watching John Oliver while taking small sips from the plastic handle of Banker’s Club vodka, which had a little too much in common with rubbing alcohol.

It’s been two weeks since that Alert and we’re still shutdown.

Everything was fine the second day of the shutdown. We all just assumed it was another snow day. All the eateries on campus were closed so I decided to treat myself with some Wingo’s from UberEats. As I stepped outside to pick up my food, I saw the joyful faces of some freshmen girls making snowwomen (apparent from the thoughtfully incorporated pussy hats) while the boys pelted each other with snowballs.  Those images of innocence live now only in my memory of a time long gone.

We first suspected that it wasn’t a normal snow day by the third day of the shutdown, when we saw the hillterns shuffling aimlessly by the Kogod bus stop. The wonk bus had not come all morning and the caffeine-deprived hordes were getting anxious about missing their vital roles defending democracy as the vanguard against waves of constituent calls.

At first, they all returned home after waiting for the bus for an hour. But as the days went on they stayed out longer and longer until the chill had taken hold. Now they’re just stuck in a grotesque tableau, empty coffee cups in hand, staring at long-discharged cellphones with silent air pods forever attached to their ears. They’ll never fall out now. 

It had been 96 hours since the snow began to fall and there was no end in sight. The pasta rations were running dangerously low so we decided to send a team into campus to gather supplies. At the top of the list was iced coffee, a cruel joke. 24 hours later and no word from the team. Even the most optimistic wonks were beginning to lose hope.

As the shutdown crossed the first week we received the first, and most likely only, communication from the university. A very brief email which said:

Dear students,

We are very saddened to hear the news about the new Ice Age at AU. Our thought and prayers are with you. Additionally, staff at the counseling center were instructed to stay behind should you need emotional support during this incredibly difficult period. However, we’d like to remind you that if you disappear on the way to MGC tuition will not be refunded unless you purchased tuition insurance.

All the best,   

Sylvia Burwell

Sent from my iPhone

Shit hit the fan shortly after the email came out. By this time all power was shut off. We were in the midst of nicotine withdrawals as the Juulers couldn’t charge their vapes. Tensions were beginning to run high.

I was holed away with the rest of McDowell on the 5th floor. We slept in our own rooms for the first few days but as temperatures dropped we gradually began sleeping in groups in the lounge.

Rumors began to circulate that Sylvia Burwell took a helicopter out of Katzen when the snow plows couldn’t get past the construction blocking Glover gate. The only way to get off campus would be through the man-made moat on campus, filled to the brim with fresh snow. Construction crews had trapped us on campus with a moat, which we hoped would fill with snow (rumor was the moat was commissioned to strand students on campus, forcing them to only eat and purchase from the POD).

The badminton team attempted the trek. With their racquets tied firmly around their feet, they had gotten as far as the library before the whole team fell through a patch of unpacked snow. No one dared venture outside after that.

Word just came from the 4th floor representative that the Juulers had finished looting the international students in Leonard and would be making their way across the bridge very soon. We blocked the stairwell in McDowell but I fear the couch will be no match for the mango pod starved horde searching for laptops with some charge left in them.

As I write this, I can hear them finishing up with the 4th floor. I can hear the crackle of their vapes echoing off the walls of the stairwell and their voices chanting, “Juul gang, Juul gang, Juul gang”. I don’t have much hope left but if you’re reading this, STAY AWAY FROM AU!