County-wide blackout disrupts classes, midday activities

The MacVittie College Union mailroom (pictured above) was one place affected by the campus power outage on Friday Aug. 31. The incident lasted around two hours, causing delays or cancellations of various events around Geneseo (UdeshI Seneviratne /photo editor).

The MacVittie College Union mailroom (pictured above) was one place affected by the campus power outage on Friday Aug. 31. The incident lasted around two hours, causing delays or cancellations of various events around Geneseo (UdeshI Seneviratne /photo editor).

Geneseo experienced a power outage that affected large portions of Livingston County on Friday Aug. 31, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio said. The midday outage led to minimal and moderate disruptions of activities campus-wide, according to Bonfiglio. 

“My impression is that it was a minor inconvenience,” Bonfiglio said. “I do recall that we’ve had other power outages, but I don’t recall the circumstances or complications. I do think that given the increased incidence of extreme weather, we may see more in the future.” 

The administrative response to the outage fell into two areas. In one group, President Denise Battles and her cabinet made decisions about whether to cancel events and how to handle the situation if the outage continued, Bonfiglio said. 

In another group, members of the college’s Incident Management Team convened to respond to individuals handling the outage and to gather information for the cabinet to use in their decision-making process, according to Dean of Academic Planning and Advising Celia Easton who served on the IMT. 

Members of the Office of Communicating and Marketing acted as liaisons between the two groups and the college community, spreading information on social media and through emails. 

“This is one of the shortest emergencies we’ve had,” Easton said. “When we’ve had power emergencies before, they’ve gone on for much longer—usually because of a storm—or in segregated areas … this emergency, since it was quick, stayed relatively manageable and tight.”

The IMT maintained contact with different campus groups including Student Life, Lauderdale Health & Counseling and academic departments, according to Easton. Lauderdale and certain labs in the Integrated Science Center ran into issues with refrigeration, but they were able to handle the situation by the time the power came back on, Easton said. 

Multiple classes at the time of the outage were disrupted. The decision to cancel a class because of visibility problems was up to the discretion of individual professors, according to Easton. Some professors chose to cancel classes while others decided to improvise by changing their plans or teaching outside, Easton said. 

Associate professor of physics and astronomy Aaron Steinhauer taught a class at that time and decided to hold a vote amongst his students. 

“It was completely dark with some emergency lighting on the side, so I pretty much left it up to the students … and they overwhelmingly voted to have class,” Steinhauer said. “I had everybody come down to the front of the class and I had a colleague who … wheeled in a car battery attached to a floodlight so we could kind of see better.” 

Beyond issues Steinhauer’s students may have had with general visibility, he felt that he was still able to teach effectively. 

“It went about how a normal class would go,” Steinhauer said. “I did the lecture, I asked the questions I was going to ask. What I couldn’t do was use the overhead projector; I brought up the slide on my laptop and just walked it around to show everyone.” 

For some students like history major senior Rebecca Hagan, the power outage affected their days minimally. 

“None of the outlets in [my townhouse] were working,” Hagan said. “It was sort of freaky since there wasn’t a lot of information about what was going on. It did have an effect on my day, but maybe not a big one.” 

The Lamron reached out to 10 other students, all of whom said that they were out of Geneseo for the long weekend. 

Early childhood education major senior Danielle Angel also remarked that the length of the outage did not phase her.

“Since it didn’t last too long, it didn’t really have much effect on my day,” Angel said. “If it went on longer, it probably would have made things more difficult.” 

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