Planned campus blackout causes safety concern

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SARAH BRADY / THE FLAT HAT

The entire College of William and Mary campus community was sent into a tizzy Oct. 30 upon receiving an email that there would be intermittent power outages Halloween night, due to the need for transformer repairs on campus. The repairs were subsequently rescheduled to occur during the night of Nov. 7 and early morning of Nov. 8. Although it was ultimately a smart decision to move the repairs to a date after Halloween, it was still quite inconvenient and dangerous to have power outages occur during a weeknight at all.

My main issue with these repairs is that they were scheduled to happen the night before the class of 2022 was supposed to register for classes for the spring semester. In fact, the email that students received from Residence Life stated that these power outages would continue until 6 a.m. — just an hour before registration.

That was a poor plan, considering many students — myself included — need an alarm clock to wake up any time before 7 a.m. As someone who has a tendency to sleep through alarms, I have a digital alarm clock next to my bed which blares a siren noise into my ear each morning (ask my roommate — she loves it).

This alarm clock needs to be plugged in, and whenever there is a power surge, it resets. I went to sleep Wednesday night completely fearful that it would reset due to the power outages and would therefore not go off in time to wake me up so that I could register for classes the next morning.

Luckily, my roommate made sure I was awake and able to snag seats in my Interpreting Literature class — but the situation could have easily turned into a disaster. It would have been unpleasant, but understandable, if there had been unexpected power outages the night before registration — but it makes absolutely no sense that the school planned to have a blackout during that time.

Although that is obviously not the world’s most dire problem, there are some more serious issues with this power outage occurring when it did. The repairs were scheduled to begin at 11 p.m., a time that is somewhat early for busy college students who are trying to finish up their work on a long Wednesday night. I have spent quite a few nights working on papers in Swem or walking back from a friend’s dorm past 11 p.m. on a weeknight. It makes little sense to plan power outages (which affect streetlamps) beginning at this time. Some students even took to Facebook to write posts about having to walk down streets where there was no lighting at all. This is simply unsafe.

I understand that these repairs cannot be done during the day on a college campus, as doing so would interrupt important class time and mess with the computer labs as well as the lighting in classrooms across campus. But perhaps repairing this transformer Friday or Saturday night and starting much later in the evening/early morning would be a better solution.

This way, most students would be indoors, and they would not have to worry about making sure their alarm clocks will go off on time to make it to registration or class the next morning.

Email Kimberly Lores at kmlores@email.wm.edu