Asst. News Editor
On Wednesday, Nov. 3, a campus-wide power outage occurred between the hours of 3:00 a.m and 11:00 a.m. Due to this, classes were cancelled until noon, disrupting the schedules of both residential and commuter students, and staff alike. The cause for the disruption was due to “the main component fail[ing] in the vault that serves half of the campus, including the library and IT services, which is why servers and network were down . . .” stated the Facilities Department Representative, Sarah Dudley.
At 6:11 a.m. on Nov. 3, an alert went out to the Whittier College community stating that “At 3:10 a.m., select buildings on campus [had] lost power. Updates will be sent as soon as they are available.” This would be the first of many explaining the situation with the power outage. A second alert from Whittier College Alert Systems was sent out at 8:06 a.m. that same day stating that “power is still out on some parts of Campus. In the event of an emergency, Dial 562.842.5042. Phones on campus are currently down as well.” Then, in the same hour, an email was sent out from Interim Vice President and Dean of Students Deanna Merino-Contino. This email was a follow-up to the previous alerts already issued, discussing how the Campus is trying to restore power, what does and does not have power as of currently, and how there will be more alerts coming, updating the community on this situation. She states that, “At the moment classroom buildings and IT are without power (no Moodle, etc). . .” and lists what buildings have power: such as “. . . Broadoaks, Music Arnold Chapel, Shannon Center, Weingart, and Philadelphia House, Campus Center, Campbell, Turner, and Wanberg,” and that the “Student Life offices are open in the Campus Center should you need anything.” The email also states how the Campus Inn is open for residential students, not commenting on commuter students. She also reiterates that since phone lines are down, to use the phone number 562.842.5042 for any emergencies.
A second email from Deanna Merino-Contino came out at 8:45 a.m., giving updates on the power outage. The email goes on to state how “due to the power outage, campus will be closed for classes until noon.” Vice President of Marketing and Communication, Ana Lilia Barraza, stated that this decision “was made in consultation with Academic Affairs after it was concluded that it would be in the best interest of students.” The email also talked about how the “Student Life offices in Campus Center and Ettinger Lounge are open should you need a space to do homework and study.” An update to Residential students also was given in the message, stating how they “. . . should be able to access [their] halls via [their] keys and key fobs should [they] need assistance please contact Campus Safety at 562.842.5042.” At 10:59 a.m., a Whittier College alert went out stating that “Power has been restored to Campus. Classes will resume at 12 p.m..” Following this up at 11 a.m., was a reiteration about how the power is back on, and with that, classes will continue after noon. Facilities Department Representative Sarah Dudley states that “. . . the power outage was around 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3 . . . [and] the power outage was resolved around 11:30 a.m. . . .”
The cause of the power outage was due to components of the main vault that houses electricity on campus failing. This main component is what “keeps the electricity flowing” at the main electrical vault where “a lot of the electricity that powers half of the campus is at”, Dudley states. In case of any more power outage emergencies, a backup generator has been rented and installed to keep “ running as back up just to be safe until midterms are over on Friday, Nov. 12.”
The power outage disrupted the routines of many students both living on and off-campus. A residential student, who would like to remain anonymous, lives in Harris A Residential Building where the power went out at 3:00 in the morning, summing up her experience with the power outage as “annoying.” She states that the “most annoying part wasn’t that the power was out but that it would kick back on for two seconds and the fans would start and our phones would start charging and then it would immediately go back out. It was a few hours of start and stop power.” She also comments on how others in her dorm would “see the power come back on and run into the bathroom for the power to go out as soon as they got in there.” Residential students were not the only ones affected by the lack of power. Many commuter students’ schedules became disorganized. Second-year Nune Papikyan, a commuter student, stated that, while the power outage did not really affect their schedule that day since their class was cancelled for a prior reason, if they “still had that 8 a.m. class it would have been an inconvenience.” Fourth-year commuter student, Milah Afonin, comments on her experience as well, stating that, while she got “the memo early enough not to come to class that [she] was able to stay home,” there was hesitancy with said memo due to not “. . . trust[ing] the legitimacy of them saying classes were canceled, but was ultimately okay with it after my professor emailed the all clear.” She then speaks about how much stress was caused due to the fact that Moodle was down, and that “prevented [her] from working on some stuff.”
Students were not the only ones affected by the outage on Wednesday; many professors and faculty experienced disruptions in their schedule and work, as well. Professor Deborah Norden speaks of her experience with the outage, stating that, while her first class was at noon that day, she did have to cancel appointments and reschedule them, and “getting a bit behind in my prep for Thursday, given that I couldn’t access what I needed on the computer.” Another faculty member, Professor Anne Sebanc, spoke on her experience as well. She talks about how campus safety contacted faculty directly about the power outage so she “. . . began planning a low tech day for my 11 am class.” Her biggest inconvenience with the outage was that “. . . Moodle and my.whittier.edu were down so I could not grade assignments. I also wish I could have contacted my 11:00 am class (I do not have all their emails in my outlook directory). I had a couple students contact me to make sure we really were not meeting because we had class without electricity before.” She also comments on the fact that possibly some students “. . . did not go to afternoon classes and took the whole day off but I did email my 3:00 p.m. class to let them know we were meeting once electricity and Moodle were back up.” Professor Sebanc says that she is still trying to catch up with the lessons being missed due to the Wednesday disruption. But ultimately, she understood “. . . why the administration did not want us to have class without electricity.”
While it may seem that there were multiple disruptions with the power outage, many students and faculty ultimately found positives during this event. Afonin speaks about how “Ultimately it was nice to miss class . . . ” The anonymous student said that “. . . overall, it was kinda of a nice day off because all of my classes decided to cancel their lessons for the day, so it ended up being a good relaxing day when the power was still off, and a study day once the WiFi came back and I could do my homework!” Professor Sebanc speaks about how after she got her 11:00 a.m. class prepped, she got to take her “. . . dog for an extra walk and then worked on [her] own projects.” Professor Norden wraps it up nicely by saying that, despite the disruptions caused,
“. . . there was nothing life changing. These things happen.”
The power outage caused disruptions both to students and faculty on campus, causing them to not be able to do their work with no Moodle, MyWhittier, etc., or have their classes cancelled as a whole. Ultimately, the people on the campus found a positive in this situation, with being able to catch up on missed work or just relax. If you have any more questions about the power outage, you can contact Campus Security at 562.842.5042.
Featured Image: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus