Senior Grace Maroney was on the last leg of her journey from Massachusetts to North Carolina when she ran into standstill traffic due to the snowfall in Alexandria, Virginia.

“I made it a collective 40 miles in 10 hours,” Maroney said. “I would say I didn’t go over three miles per hour the entire day.”

Similar to Maroney, many Elon University students found themselves stuck at home, sitting in an airport for hours or sleeping in their car on the highway as they all traveled back to campus for Winter Term. 

The winter weather advisory across the East Coast meant hitting the road a few hours earlier than anticipated, but for others, it meant possibly sleeping in a car on the side of I-95.

Maroney sat in her car for approximately 9 hours until she ultimately had to make the difficult decision of where she would sleep.

“I was faced with a choice — do I sleep on I-95 south or in the McDonald's parking lot?” Maroney said. “I went to 16 hotels, 8 of which did not have power and couldn't take guests, one which just took cash, and the rest were totally full for the night.”

Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley reemphasized Elon University’s commitment to the safety of all members of our community.

“Over the years, we have experienced numerous weather-related travel challenges as students return to campus for Winter Term,” Dooley wrote in a statement to Elon News Network.  

Prior to Winter Term beginning, Dooley sent a university email to students and their families about what to do if they encountered weather-related travel challenges and needed to miss class.

Flight cancellations have also increased the past couple of weeks due to the spike in COVID-19 Omicron variant cases. Sophomore Avery Sleeper had two canceled flights before she got onto a plane to Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“It was stressful having constant flight changes,” Sleeper said. “I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate with my professor when my travel plan had to change every few hours.”

University Provost Aswani Volety wrote in a statement to Elon News Network that as students face different situations coming back to campus, faculty members working with students varies significantly, based on the nature of the course and the particular circumstances.  

“There is no one ‘right’ way for faculty to work with students in this situation — online options like Zoom might work well for some courses, but not be as effective for others,” Volety wrote. 


Jenna Manderioli contributed to the reporting of this article.