By Sean Lynch
St. Bonaventure University students were unable to access some residence halls during a 2 ½-hour power outage on Friday night after a transformer near Devereux Hall short-circuited.
ID scanners in the halls of Robinson, Falconio and Devereux malfunctioned due to errors within the system. Gary Segrue, director of safety and security, explained that this is a rare occurrence.
“From time to time we experience minor malfunctions with the electronic card access. This is usually as a result of programming issues,” said Segrue.
A similar problem has come about when freshmen tried to get into the library after 9 p.m.
“We recently were having a problem with a limited number of freshman students gaining access to the library at late night hours. We ascertained it was a network issue and the problem was resolved,” said Segrue.
Segrue went through the process of getting the doors fixed and explained how the doors are controlled by Safety and Security.
“As we receive a complaint of a door access reader not working properly, we immediately troubleshoot the problem at the Safety and Security desk or with our Galaxy software program vendor.”
Phil Winger, associate vice president for facilities at St. Bonaventure, explained the measures put in place for this outage.
“We have a number of backup capabilities, depending on the length and nature of the outage and the outdoor weather conditions.” said Winger. “For the recent example, with the outage projected to last around 2-1/2 hours and the weather not extreme, we did not have to execute everything.”
Winger also explained the plan to be executed in case of an extreme situation, such as a blizzard, and placed emphasis on the safety of students living in the residence halls.
“In the worst case of a prolonged outage in bitterly cold weather, we would have to have several workers arranging for some work-arounds in the steam heating systems.
“The focus of our contingency planning is to be able to provide heat for our buildings and a safe environment for resident students even if electricity is lost—and even if natural gas supply is lost at same time.”
Students were also concerned with safety issues. Since the outage occurred on a Friday, some students were making their way back from town or walking around campus after going out earlier in the afternoon.
Freshman theology and psychology double major Noelle Acaso discussed some of the difficulties she faced on campus during the power outage.
“I started off in Doyle, so my friends and I actually ended up walking back to Robinson, and we kind of got really confused because the lights turned off,” said Acaso. “We did not really know what was happening.”
Acaso was able to get back into her residence hall with the help of the resident assistants and security.
Acaso felt that she did not have as much trouble getting into her building because she knew people would be there.
“I personally did not have as much trouble because there were people on my floor in the lounge to let me in, but others did have a difficult time getting onto other floors.”
Some resident assistants were on duty during the outage because it was the weekend. Resident assistant Eric Somelofske was on duty in Devereux when the power went out.
“Our job is to keep residents safe, and we went through on constant rounds to make sure that everyone was all right,” said Somelofske. “We made sure that people were adhering to the buddy system, and made sure that the doors were unlocked, so that people were able to get in without having to wait.”
Segrue was pleased with how the students and staff acted during the power outage.
“I am sure, like in any emergency, there were a few minor inconveniences. I was pleased with the response of the university community during this 2-1/2 hour event,” he said.
“I must commend the students who acted in a mature and responsible manner during the outage,” said Segrue. “Many students gathered in the lobby areas of the dorms and assisted in keeping others company and safe. Security officers and residential life responded to each dorm to assist with any needs until the power was restored.”