Manchester University
Oak Leaves

May 12, 2017


Vice President for Academic Affairs, Raylene Rospond

Students Emotionally Charged over Manchester Power Outage 

Destinee Boutwell 

On April 25, Manchester students across campus woke up to no lights, no air-conditioning or fans, and worst of all, no Wi-Fi. They might even have slept in, if they were depending on an electrical alarm clock. As the power outage lingered, students gathered in the Jo Young Switzer Center to get out of the sweltering heat of their room, charge their phones and check their emails.
Communication was very important during this entire ordeal because students wanted to know if they needed to find different sleeping arrangements or if the power would soon come on again. However, with no electricity, there was also no Wi-Fi. It was somewhat ironic that the university’s main mode of communication was e-mail because students had no Wi-Fi to monitor it. 

Students who had wireless data had no problems checking their emails and helping to keep everyone else informed. But those that didn't have an unlimited data plan began to experience shortages and overage fees.
“Some of the greatest inconveniences I faced had to do with the lack of Wi-Fi in residence halls,” said Residential Assistant Darlene Melvin. “I could deal with lack of electricity for a while, but without Wi-Fi, it was nearly impossible to receive emails and text alerts. As an RA, communication is crucial, and without Wi-Fi it became very difficult to keep up.” 

The general consensus, though, was that Manchester University did a very nice job keeping people informed and alert for changes being made, but having access to Wi-Fi in only one building became a large strain on the data plans of many students.
For some, living without electricity wasn’t a big problem, as they found ways to use their ingenuity. “I took a cold shower in the dark with my headlamp one night,” said East resident, Cally Miller. “I also used the bathroom with a headlamp. It wasn’t so bad. I have spent time in a developing country with no electricity or plumbing for three weeks. At least this time we had plumbing. And the water wouldn’t give me parasites either.” 

To address the students' frustrations, the university decided to hold Town Halls, which allowed students to voice their concerns, anger or praises. “I think the university could have handled this better,” said East resident Mariah Flemming. “But I really liked the Town Halls they held to talk with us directly, rather than using more emails.” 

Raylene Rospond, vice president for Academic Affairs and Clair Knapp, chief business officer and vice president for Finance, attended the Town Halls, and after listening to the student concerns, decided to compensate students across campus with rebates for the inconvenience. Students in Garver, Schwalm, Helman and Oakwood Halls received $20 in Spartan cash. Students in East Hall received a check for $125 and students in East Street Apartments received a $250 check. 

Most of the students agreed that the compensation they received was unexpected. Some said it was more than enough. “I'm fine with the check I received, because I was expecting nothing,” said East resident Chelsea Glenn. 
Melvin concurred. “I feel that the $125 rebate was adequate compensation for the inconvenience during the power outage,” she said. “Most of this was able to cover both the food I lost in my fridge and the extra on my phone bill after I used up my cellular data.” 

Others didn't think it quite covered everything that was lost during the power outage. “I was really frustrated with the power outage, but I understand it's not something the university did on purpose, said Makenzi Nyland. “It was frustrating that they cancelled classes because I am paying to take those classes, so that's where I feel the compensation was not enough. They compensated us for the things we lost over the four days without power but they didn't compensate everyone for the two days of cancelled classes.” 

The prospect of cancelled classes—during a sunny, warm stretch of April—had a lot of students very excited about their days off. Without electricity or Wi-Fi, students had no way to complete homework assignments, unless they decided to join the masses congregating in the JYSC. “My friends and I sat in our cars or drove around so we could listen to music, charge our phones, and be in the air conditioning,” Nyland said. “We also went and hung out in the upstairs JYSC to charge everything. We even watched a movie there on my laptop because we didn't want to be in my room.” 

Other people decided to take full advantage of the beautiful weather. “During the days off, I went outside and enjoyed the sunshine,” Melvin said. “The first thing I did was sit under a tree and meditate. Later I took a walk around the North Manchester neighborhoods. On the second day, I took advantage of the natural beauty outside and went out with my camera and snapped some pictures.”

And some people enjoyed the time away from classes. “It was a much-needed stress reliever,” Glenn said.