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Giant snowball batters Reed dorm

By Chris Lydgate ’90 on February 13, 2014 04:09 PM

Reed College students, both math majors, roll giant snowball.

Runaway 800-lb snowball puts dent in RCA #7. Math majors were involved. Photos by Reed College Community Safety Office

A giant runaway snowball crashed into a Reed dorm on Saturday evening, ripping a wall off its studs and narrowly missing a window. No one was injured in the collision.

College officials say the ball was some 40 inches in diameter and weighed from 800 to 900 pounds. “It was a big snowball,” says maintenance manager Steve Yeadon.

The episode started Saturday during a storm that dumped as much as 12 inches of snow on Portland. A couple of students decided to make a large snowball in the quadrangle formed by the Grove dorms, according to an incident report from the Community Safety Office. They rolled it back and forth across the Grove Quad in what must have at first seemed a Sisyphean undertaking. But as time went on, the frozen sphere picked up more and more snow, gained mass, and grew increasingly ponderous. Soon a rumor sprang up that the Doyle Owl was entombed in its icy heart (a report that had some historical resonance--in 2010, the Owl materialized in the Sallyport encased in a block of ice). By 8 p.m., a crowd had gathered in the Quad and was chanting “Roll it! Roll it!”

big snowball photo
Giant snowball cracks wall in Reed dorm.

Two students—both math majors—then rolled the gargantuan blob down the path that leads from the Quad to SE 28th Street. Unfortunately, they miscalculated its trajectory. The snowball gathered momentum, veered off course, and smacked into Unit #7 of the Reed College Apartments.

Three students sitting in the living room of RCA #7 were startled by a “huge crash” and discovered a giant crack running down the bedroom wall and a goliath boulder of ice lurking outside the window.

The two math majors immediately reported the incident to the Community Safety Office and identified themselves as the offenders. (Or should that be snow-ffenders?)

It took a Reed maintenance worker 45 minutes to cut through the frosty mass in order to inspect the damage, Yeadon says. The impact deflected the wall by several inches and broke it clear from its king studs. Yeadon estimates that repairing the damage will cost from $2,000 to $3,000.

No Owl was found.