Power-hungry scarfies briefly thwarted

The University was struck by a power cut at around 11am on Monday April 30, disrupting lectures and severing the campus’s internet connection.

The cut was the result of a contractor outside of the campus interfering with a power cable with an excavator, which stopped the supply to the main campus. Power was restored to the Uni approximately 25 minutes later with Delta Utility Services responding quickly to re-establish the power supply.

According to Property Services Director Barry Mackay, the “disruption was minimal” to University operations. However, lectures were interrupted both during and after the power outage, with some classes being cancelled hours later. Castle Lecture Theatres’ electronic systems remained out of service until 1pm, meaning any Powerpoint slides accompanying lectures were unavailable.

In the Central Library, students were forced to study in cold and dark conditions, with the Library’s windows automatically opening to let in outside air on one of Dunedin’s coldest days so far this year.

Internet was suspended during the power cut, and certain connections remained affected for the following few hours. The internet shortage hit Radio One and Critic particularly hard, with both media outlets losing internet access for two hours. As a result of the cut, Radio One was off the air for nearly 45 minutes and the quality of this week’s issue of Critic is approximately 2% lower than usual due to its two hours of suspended production.

When Critic surveyed students on their reaction to the loss of power, most seemed unfazed. “There was no internet for like, a whole ten minutes,” said one, but when queried, he denied any adverse effect on his academic performance. “No. It meant I got more work done.”

Some students expressed concern about the impression the power cut would leave on the high school students visiting Otago from around the country for the Dunedin Tertiary Information Day. “It was like we were saying: ‘come to Dunedin, freeze your arses off, and sorry, there’ll be no power to warm you up.’”

Another student described her ordeal stuck inside a lift for ten minutes in the Richardson Building. “It was kind of frightening at first. We pressed that emergency button and it just beeped at us for a while. But luckily the other people in the lift were good company and we schemed ways to ration two sandwiches and one banana between five people in case we were stuck there for the day.”

University staff members were seemingly equally unperturbed, with Critic receiving reports that the Law Faculty’s reaction to the lack of power was to put aside its work en masse and gather in the staff room for a cup of tea. “They’re ready for the apocalypse,” a nearby law student observed.
This article first appeared in Issue 10, 2012.
Posted 12:51am Monday 7th May 2012 by Claudia Herron.