Monday, February 8, 2010

First day of spring classes outed by power outage

All morning and afternoon classes were cancelled on the first day of spring 2010 as a powerful storm caused a power outage at CSM on Jan. 19, plunging the campus into darkness and forcing a campus closure.

CSM experienced the power outage at approximately 5:41 a.m. A e-mail was sent to all CSM employees at 6:21 a.m. and students who were signed up for the emergency text messaging system received a text message at 6:36 a.m. informing them of the campus closure.

Three administrators in charge of the CSM website and its Facebook page posted a message of the campus closure at 6:54 a.m. and updated both the website and Facebook page hourly from 7 a.m. onwards. An e-mail was sent to students at 7:30 a.m. informing them of the campus closure.

"When I got to campus, I saw many people leaving and people were yelling that there were no classes," said CSM student Hansel Vargas-Machuca, who was on campus to attend his 8:10 a.m. intermediate algebra class.

Outside Building 1, worried students surrounded and peppered CSM President Mike Claire with questions about the campus closure, saying that they had friends who lived as far as Hayward and South San Francisco who needed to know about the campus closure so that they need not make the long trip to college.

Claire informed the students that both CSM and Ca├▒ada College were closed until further notice and offered the students water and soda.

"It was the least I could do," said Claire in an interview later that day. "We are doing the very best that we can to keep students informed via text messaging, the web, email, etc. There are many variables and unknowns associated with power outages and we do our best to act on the information we have at any given point in time."

Campus security ushered the students off the campus and e-mails were sent asking students to not come to campus unless they had been notified, either by text messages or e-mails, that the campus has reopened.

Power was finally restored to the whole campus at around 2:30 p.m. The CSM website and Facebook page were updated with the news and text messages and e-mails were promptly sent to all students to inform them that CSM would officially open at 5:00 p.m. and evening classes were to be held as scheduled.

This prompted students who had yet to purchase textbooks for their evening classes to make a mad rush to the CSM bookstore, which was open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., to buy the required textbooks before the first classes of spring 2010 began at 6:30 p.m..

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