December 1, 2010

Parts of Central, West Campus Lose Power

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Just two days before the end of the semester, thousands of students were left without electricity or access to the Blackboard site shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday. Power was restored to the affected areas on West Campus and parts of Central Campus around 12:45 a.m., but the Cornell servers — which host the University’s website as well as Blackboard and other functions — remained down as of 1:15 a.m.

“They think a major circuit tripped,” Interim Deputy University Spokesperson Claudia Wheatley said late Wednesday night.

Cornell Police Chief Kathy Zoner confirmed that crews determined the problem involved Cornell’s power system.

Wheatley said a swath of Central Campus from the Arts Quad to the Engineering Quad lost power.

Cornell Police doubled their typical presence on campus during the outage to ensure that students traveling in darkened areas remained safe, Zoner said.

According to Tommy Bruce, director of University communications, a text message was sent to students registered with the University alert system. Bruce said approximately 7,000 to 10,000 Cornell community members use the system.

“We want to make sure that we’re keeping people informed,” he added.

However, as of 12:45 a.m., many students — including some signed up for the alert system — had not received any word from the University.

“I only knew about the blackout because of how bizarrely dark West Campus was on my way back from Olin and peoples’ Facebook statuses,” Jaime Freilich ’13 said.

Students submitting assignments or studying during the last week of classes expressed frustration that the Blackboard site, which is accessed via Cornell servers, was unavailable.

“I can’t believe Blackboard is out the night before one of my finals,” said Melissa Panasci ’13, who said she was studying for a Thursday communications final.

“Everyone’s complaining because they can’t do their work,” said Kayla Jacobs ’13, who lives in Becker House on West Campus. “Some of the people in my hall are working in the hallway because the lights are on in the hallway.”

“I’ve just been working on a project that I need to access lecture slides for, and now I can’t,” Freilich said.

Bruce, the director of University Communications, said he was unaware of a policy regarding assignment deadlines in light of a Blackboard crash.

Original Author: Sun Staff