Power outage makes upper campus chilly and unconnected

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Graphic by Spencer Light | The Broadside (Contact: slight@cocc.edu)

By Katya Agatucci | The Broadside (Contact: kagatucci2@cocc.edu)

The halls of Ochoco were frigid, classes in Deschutes were moved, and technology, including lighting and computer technology ceased to function for the better part of a day throughout the upper campus at Central Oregon Community College due to a power outage on Feb. 19.

Sean Ladd, maintenance supervisor at COCC said a large fuse blew at the main distribution point where power enters the campus. “Because of the way that the power is distributed from that point, there are certain loops. There’s an upper loop that serves the upper campus building and there is a lower loop that would be Mazama, Coats Center, etc. That loop was not affected.”

When people started to populate the buildings at around 7 a.m. , Campus Public Safety received a call about the lack of power in upper campus buildings and it was passed on to campus maintenance,  according to Ladd. Faculty and students were then notified through the COCC emergency text notification system about the outage.

The emergency text notification system sent out a blast on the morning of Feb 19., stating that classes were in session, unless faculty members communicated with their students otherwise.

Student Aurora Gerhardt commuted from Madras that day to find out that her only class was moved. “We didn’t find out until when class started, so [the power outage] actually shortened class as well. Personally, coming from Madras, I would have liked it to be cancelled. It would have been less stressful the whole day.”

Ladd said that when there is a power outage, the power comes in three phases and sometimes only one or two phases will go out at once. The three phases control lighting, computer technology and its receptacles in the walls, and heating. Some upper campus buildings were only affected by one or two phases, which is why there were partial outages in some buildings.

Some instructors who taught evening classes warned students that power might go out a second time, which had to do with fixing the initial problem. “Essentially, we have to take the power down in order to replace the fuses that were blown. We need to take it down so that the person who is replacing the fuse isn’t hurt. It’s a safety precaution. We did not have to do that, we just tell people that they might experience it,” Ladd said.

The maintenance department was heavily involved in fixing the outage, including Ladd and COCC electrician Brian Flener. However, for an outage involving that much power, the department called in Summit Power Systems of Bend. “They have the expertise to be dealing with what is the extremely high voltage coming in like that. We rely on those experts so we don’t put our own people at risk,” Ladd said.

Due to the lack of access to technology for Monday morning classes, some instructors cancelled classes.

Sean Rule, professor of mathematics was not affected by the outage because his classes were held at Barber Library. “If it had been [affected], we had a coin flip and a deck of cards activity to do that day, so we could still have done it without power.”

From spinning pennies for data collection examples to using dice and cards, Rule uses technology when needed, but he also thinks that hands-on activity without reliance on technology is important.

In the classes that Rule teaches, he integrates a balance of technology and hands-on activities. From spinning pennies for data collection examples to using dice and cards, Rule uses technology when needed, but he also thinks that hands-on activity without reliance on technology is important.

“I don’t think we rely on technology too much, but, rather, we tend to often use it in the wrong way,” Rule said. “If it’s solely used as a listing of notes that we read off to students, it loses its utility. Also, in the event of a power outage, you aren’t sunk if your lesson isn’t 100 percent tied to a PowerPoint presentation.” 

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