Power outage disables elevators, leading to campus accessibility problems

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Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

 

Despite a campus-wide power outage that lasted nearly two hours Tuesday, University administrators did not cancel classes.

Power went out across campus at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday. Eventually, power returned building by building, until the last building regained electricity at around noon.

University spokesman Gary Susswein said classes were not canceled because University officials thought they could resolve the outage quickly. 

“Had we canceled classes, that would have had an effect throughout the day with people not showing up to classes,” Susswein said. “We are a university. Students are here to learn, faculty are here to teach, so we wanted to hold off on canceling classes hoping it could be resolved quickly. And it was.” 

Psychology sophomore Alejandrina Guzman, who uses an electric wheelchair to get around campus, said she thinks the outage was an inconvenience for students who rely on elevators, door openers and other Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations to get to class. Guzman said she was ultimately able to find an alternate route.  

“I don’t think the University really did anything to help,” Guzman said. “Yeah, they fixed it eventually, but the fact that classes were still rolling, I think that wasn’t fair. Luckily, I used the other side of the building, and I was fine — but who knows if other people on crutches, or wheelchairs or a scooter [could get around].” 

Guzman said she believes classes should have been canceled during the outage.

“As cheesy as it sounds, it might have been best to cancel those few hours of class simply because not everyone was able to make it,” Guzman said. “It wasn’t inclusive.”

Students with specific concerns about how the University handled the outage should make their concerns known to University officials, Susswein said. 

“If there are specific, unique situations that could help us make things even better in the future, we would be happy to speak with those students and to learn how to improve on our practice,” Susswein said. “We are always looking to do things better.”

The power outage posed a myriad of problems for students across campus, as elevators ceased to function, Wi-Fi went down, and dorm key cards were rendered useless. 

Campus Wi-Fi was patchy throughout the day and wasn’t fully restored until 5:31 p.m., according to the Information Technology Services office.  

Leo Sanchez, student ambassador in the division of Housing and Food Services, said swipe cards for dorms did not work during the outage, so students were not able to purchase food in the dining halls. 

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said all emergency generators worked properly.

UT students received a UTAustinAlert text at roughly 8:15 a.m., which clarified that there was no emergency or on-going threat.

The University sent another text alert at 9:53 a.m. and emails at 10:23 a.m. and 10:47 a.m., saying the power was being restored building by building.

The power outage occurred on the second day of UT Energy Week, a week of lectures and campus events focused around “the most vital energy issues facing society,” according to the event website.

 

 

Original story: University administrators said power is restored on campus after a campus-wide power outage that began at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday. Classes were not canceled throughout the outage, according to University spokesman Gary Susswein.

As of 12:20 p.m., six buildings still did not have Wi-Fi , and four others had partial outages.

Austin Energy, a company that provides standby connection to UT, induced the power outage by incorrectly switching energy in a switchyard, according to Bobby Speer, electrical distribution manager at UT Utilities and Energy Management.

“We generate all of our own power, and this morning Austin Energy ... induced a generator trip to our system,” Speer said.

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said all emergency generators worked properly.

Steam and heat may not fully work until this evening, according to Speer. As of 12:35 p.m., not all UT buildings had heat or hot water.  

Leo Sanchez, student ambassador in the division of Housing and Food Services, said swipe cards for dorms did not work during the outage, and students were not able to purchase food in the dining halls.  

UT students received a UTAustinAlert text at roughly 8:15 a.m., which clarified that there is no emergency or on-going threat.

The University sent another text alert at 9:53 a.m. and emails at 10:23 a.m. and 10:47 a.m., saying the power was being restored building by building.

Tuesday is the second day of UT Energy Week, a week of lectures and campus events focused around "the most vital energy issues facing society," according to the event website.