Many students woke up Wednesday morning to find an e-mail from the Office of Information Technology in their inboxes. The e-mail was short and to the point - from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, power and Internet service would be cut in a number of buildings on AU’s campus. For students living on South side, the power outage was not a problem. For the 1,086 students living in Leonard, Hughes or McDowell Halls, there was a serious problem.
With finals starting Monday and often multiple papers due on the last days of class, students are working harder than they have all semester. Many had papers to do for Thursday classes and did not have the option of turning off their computer and sleeping through the power outage. Any student who may have tried going to Mary Graydon Center would have found that building dark as well. The other option, Bender Library, is already crowded late in the semester, and students will have a difficult time accommodating the stream of refugee North siders looking for a place to work. Good luck to all students attempting to catch up on their lost night of work.
The inconvenient timing of the power outage begs the question - why now? Nobody seems to have any idea. AU said one thing, Pepco, AU’s energy provider, said another. If - after the picture of what happened becomes clearer - it turns out that AU could have rescheduled this power outage, there should be angry students and professors demanding answers.
If Wednesday night’s power outage was actually unavoidable, then students should have been notified earlier and in a more comprehensive manner. The e-mail itself consisted of two sentences - 96 words. Ninety six words is not enough information to explain an eight-hour power and Internet outage to half of AU’s campus. Even worse, the people students go to first when they have questions, their resident assistants, had no more information than did their residents.
If students had, at the very least, been notified earlier, they may have been able to plan their work accordingly. But the first word given to students came from an e-mail sent at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
For those who did read the e-mail, there was no worthwhile information given past the obligatory notification. There is no explanation and no attempt to address the problems posed by the outage.
AU officials were not much more help. A few contacted about the power outage reacted with callous disregard, saying the power outage was ‘no big deal’ and ‘not an inconvenience.’ Most officials simply had no answers to give. If they had been told anything more than the students had been, they weren’t letting on.
The inconvenient timing of the power outage aside, the RAs and their residents need to have more information and have it earlier for any future power outages. The way Wednesday’s outage was handled was unacceptable and must not happen again. Students pay good money to live in the residence halls and deserve to have their electricity and Internet kept on, especially at this time of the semester.