A power outage struck over half of the campus yesterday, leaving many students and staff without electricity until mid-afternoon.
The power went out around 7:20 a.m. due to a power cable failure, affecting a number of classrooms and residence halls, as well as disrupting the campus radio station and forcing the Arbor to close its doors for the day. Campus-wide maintenance services lead electrician Jim Morrison said the faulty cable was between 30 to 40 years old, and should have been replaced earlier.
In addition to a few cancelled classes, the power outage caused on-campus residences to be in the dark for a few hours. Santa Rosa Residence Hall Resident Director Billy Jankowski said he was instructed to inform residents of the situation.
“What I was told when I asked was that they had to replace some switches and that from 1 p.m. on, the power would be going on and off,” Jankowski said. “There have been no problems that I’ve seen, but we’re trying to get that information out so people know to save papers [that they are working on]. I have heard about people missing classes and classes being canceled, though.”
Acting Registrar Virginia Johns said there was no official decision to cancel classes based on safety concerns.
“This morning, we checked with Environmental Health & Safety to see if we needed to cancel class due to safety reasons,” Johns said. “There were no problems like that.”
She said the decision to cancel classes or have alternative meetings was then left to instructors.
“It’s up to the faculty to decide to have make-up sessions,” she said. “The departments have been calling us to make arrangements.”
Johns said that by 3:30 p.m. all power on campus was fully restored.
KCSB 91.9 FM Advisor Elizabeth Robinson said she came in early yesterday morning to do a radio show when she discovered that the power was out.
“Normally we have an emergency generator that should have come on, but it did not,” she said. “We thought that it had been being serviced, but it hadn’t been.”
Robinson said the lack of power at Storke Tower created another serious problem, in addition to KCSB’s inability to broadcast.
“When we have no power or emergency generator, not only do we not have radio, but everything in Storke Tower goes down,” Robinson said. “There are no bells, and the lights at the top of the tower are out. The Federal Aviation Administration requires that those always be on because we are so close to the airport and it is such a tall building.”
The radio station was back on the air at around 11:30 a.m., Robinson said, but had to run with lower power than normal until the problem was fixed later in the afternoon.
“Facilities sent over a portable generator and hooked it up for us,” she said. “They were great guys and we had enough power to send out a signal but not to run any of our equipment.”
She said the station used a makeshift setup in order to continue broadcasting as normal.
“We had a computer and a portable CD player rigged up, and with several mics, [we] managed to get the afternoon programmer on the air,” Robinson said.
The Arbor, which usually opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, was also hampered by the blackout. Student Co-manager Sabrina Stolting said employees arrived in the morning to find the power out, and when it did not come on for several hours, it was decided that the store would remain closed for the day.
“Without power, we’re dead fish in the water,” Stolting said. “At 11 [a.m.], we made the decision that we didn’t know when power was going to come back on, so we closed for the day.”
Since the power outage also disrupted the Arbor’s refrigerated cases, Stolting said, employees temporarily transported the store’s perishable goods to other refrigerators and freezers to keep them from spoiling.