Police evacuated the GCC campus Tuesday night shortly after the campus experienced the second power outage in a week.
The lights went off at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, leaving only the dim glow of emergency lighting for students and faculty to find their way to the exits.
“This problem was particularly difficult to unravel and required calling in two electrical contractors and Glendale Water and Power in addition to our own staff to analyze [the electrical problem],” said Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services.
Two electrical contractors and GWP engineers were called in to assist facilities staff and the IT department to assess the situation.
Late Wednesday afternoon they discovered an intermittent short in an overcurrent relay, a small part in the electrical system.
Dan Padilla, manager of maintenance and operations, said that Tuesday’s power outage may have been related to Friday’s blackout, where the main junction box, which feeds 12,000 volts to the campus, arced to the girder and melted a hole through it.
According to Padilla, the overcurrent relays have had intermittent problems in the past and the surge caused by the shortage on Friday may have caused the relay to fail a few days later.
Finding the failed relay was like finding a needle in a haystack, since there are multiple relays throughout the system.
“We replaced a faulty relay that I believe was also the problem to our power outage that occurred before last spring semester,” Nakasone said. “Last spring, our contractors were never able to identify the cause of the outage and we performed maintenance to our panels and simply brought the system back up.”
Under the direction of Nelson Oliveira, director of facilities, and the combined effort of the contractors and the GWP engineers, power was restored around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The blackout affected the entire campus, and was especially problematic since finals start on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
“It affected me because I couldn’t get onto Moodle and it delayed my final,” said ESL student Steffi Qian.
Tuesday’s night classes along with all classes on Wednesday, were cancelled, causing students and teachers to worry about the upcoming classes and finals.
“We explored a lot of different options and there were no good solutions,” Mary Mirch, vice president of instructional services said. “There will be no rescheduling of classes.”
Wednesday was the last day of instruction before finals for the once-a-week Wednesday night classes, causing multiple problems for both students and teachers.
“I need to compose a new final exam schedule since the students missed an entire lecture,” said Louise Ghandi, a professor who teaches a history 117 class on Wednesday nights.
Aside from once-a-week-classes, other class finals were affected as well.
“Our main concern was our English 120 classes because they take a common final and need to have the packet ahead of time,” Monette Tiernan, English division chair said. “We decided to cancel the common final, but every class will have a final, just individual finals.” She went on to explain that many teachers are extending their office hours and holding mini-Moodle classes to try to accommodate students. The English 191 classes also have a common final, but this final will continue as scheduled.
Although the intermediate algebra classes traditionally have a common final too, this final was not affected. Irina Shumakova, the administrative assistant for math division chair, Kathy Holmes, said that the common math final for Math 101 will continue as scheduled. “We’re ready to go,” Shumakova said.
The outage caused Glendale’s website to go down as well as Moodle, so each department and individual professors are dealing with the aftermath of the power outage in their own way.
“We have become more and more reliant on Moodle and the inability to grade papers [while the power was out] has been a problem,” Richard Kamei, Sociology department chair said. “Each professor is dealing with it in their own by communicating with students through the email system or Moodle. Hopefully there will be some leniency for the students, because it [the power outage] wasn’t their fault.”
Due to the surprise power outage, El Vaquero was also affected. El Vaquero could not send the paper to the printer in its usual Tuesday night time slot since the computers shut down mid-production, and therefore is publishing today.