Lights Out: Power Outage on Southern’s campus


Jene Thomas – News Editor

No lights, no class.

The Southern Alert Emergency System sent out an email around 10 a.m. on March 30 that announced the school would be closed due to a loss of power until 5 p.m., cancelling all classes before that time.

Some students, like senior interdisciplinary student Brett Lerner.

“When I was driving to campus, I didn’t get the email until I had already made it here for work so it kind of annoyed me that I drove all the way here just for the university to be closed and they told me to go home,” said Lerner.

According to SCSU police chief Joseph Dooley, the university lost power a little after 8 a.m. due to an accident on Crescent Street.

“It was around 8:15 and a car was coming down Crescent Street from Fitch Street and actually went off the road, struck a pole, snapped the pole, brought some wires down and from that point, power was lost, not only at Southern, but within the area,” he said.

Both New Haven and Southern Police closed off entrance to Crescent until 1 a.m. on Thursday. The eastern section of Southern’s campus where the academic buildings are located are powered by the same source, a source interrupted by the fallen pole. Dooley said despite the buildings back up generators, the United Illuminating Company projected it would take at least three to four hours to restore power.

“It was just too long of a period for us to go and hold classes and make sure people were safe so a decision was made to close the school for a period of time and have evening classes and that’s essentially what we did,” said Dooley.

When the pole was knocked down, there was a power surge that affected both the academic buildings and many of the residence halls, said Robert Sheeley, for Capital Budgeting & Facilities Operations. He said when the power is down, there is big generator in the energy center that is switched on usually within 10 seconds of a power outage, bringing full power to Connecticut Hall and the residence halls, excluding North Campus.

However, in this instance, the switch failed but Sheeley said it was due to the surge, not the accident. But there is still a mystery as to why North Campus was without power, as their power comes from a different source.

“North Campus—no one can explain that to us, not even the U.I. because not only did North Campus lose power but also houses along the street there on Pine Rock Avenue,” said Sheeley.

While North Campus began to receive power around 11 a.m. and other residence halls lost power for just around 45 minutes, according to Sheeley, the academic side was without full power until 1 p.m.

It was a 10 a.m. that the university announced it’s closing but an initial email was released at 9 a.m. that announced the campus was without power. However, this confused some students like senior psychology major Luke Herzog, who went to his early morning class in Pelz Gym while the lights were off. He said half of his class showed up because they weren’t sure if there was class or not. He called the e-mail system “disorganized.”

“I got the email two hours that closed school two hours later,” he said. “The first email didn’t have any details so no one really knew what was going on.”

Photo Credit: Staff Photo

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