Share This Page

Power outage to keep Duquesne University students out of dorms until Sunday

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 1:18 p.m.
Ryan Schott, a freshman, naps on one of the couches in the Ballroom of the Student Union Building at Duquesne University, Friday, February 22nd, 2013. A power outage forced the school to cancel classes Friday, and also shut down power and plumbing inside three residence halls, forcing students to find another place to stay. Schott, who lives in the St. Ann residence, said he spent the night in the Student Union, with his roommate and about 15 other people. Keith Hodan | Tribune Review
Angel Ojeda, a freshman, walks among the chairs and cots set out by the university in the Ballroom of the Student Union Building at Duquesne University, Friday, February 22nd, 2013. A power outage forced the school to cancel classes Friday, and also shut down power and plumbing inside three residence halls, forcing students to find another place to stay. Ojeda, who lives in the St. Ann residence, said he spent the night in the Student Union, with his roommate and about 15 other people. Keith Hodan | Tribune Review
Ryan Schott, a freshman, checks his email after waking up from a nap on one of the couches in the Ballroom of the Student Union Building at Duquesne University, Friday, February 22nd, 2013. A power outage forced the school to cancel classes Friday, and also shut down power and plumbing inside three residence halls, forcing students to find another place to stay. Schott, who lives in the St. Ann residence, said he spent the night in the Student Union, with his roommate and about 15 other people. Keith Hodan | Tribune Review
Ryan Schott, a freshman, wakes up after a nap on one of the couches in the Ballroom of the Student Union Building at Duquesne University, Friday, February 22nd, 2013. A power outage forced the school to cancel classes Friday, and also shut down power and plumbing inside three residence halls, forcing students to find another place to stay. Schott, who lives in the St. Ann residence, said he spent the night in the Student Union, with his roommate and about 15 other people. Keith Hodan | Tribune Review

Midterm exams can be tough enough, but hundreds of Duquesne University students are preparing for them while exiled from dormitory rooms until Sunday as workers wrestle with a broken power-generating system.

Freshman Ryan Schott, 19, of Atlanta was ambivalent when power went out early Thursday, forcing him to spend the night on a couch in the ballroom of the Duquesne Union building. His outlook changed when he learned he would spend the weekend couch surfing.

St. Ann, St. Martin and Assumption halls, which house about one-third of the 3,700 students living in seven dormitories on campus, won't reopen until noon Sunday, the university said.

“Well, life just got five times harder,” said Schott, who lives in St. Ann and is studying to become a physician's assistant.

Of the 1,300 students affected, 47 percent live within an hour's drive of campus, university spokeswoman Bridget Fare said.

The Uptown university expects to restore electricity in the residence halls or power them with generators, Fare said.

Duquesne generates 85 percent of its electricity through a natural gas turbine in a campus plant, she said. The rest of its power comes through a renewable energy exchange.

While some colleges generate a limited amount of their own electricity, 85 percent is not typical, said Gregory Reed, director of the Electric Power Initiative and associate director of the Center for Energy at the University of Pittsburgh.

“(By) being connected to a utilities distribution network, there is usually some sort of redundant feed or a way to reroute the power to get the power back on. So if you are isolated, and you're supplying your own power … the risk is you're really subjected to your own reliability,” Reed said.

Said Fare, “We haven't had a problem like this since the early 1990s, which I think demonstrates our ability to manage the electrical systems on campus.”

Crews traced the power loss to a faulty cable in a tunnel under Academic Walk, the brick-paved main pedestrian path, the university said.

Duquesne has its own power lines, so switching to a power provider would not be a quick or easy task, Fare said.

The university called, emailed and text-messaged students to tell them the dorms would be closed.

It advised them to stay with friends or family members, and it set up cots in Duquesne Union for those with nowhere to go. That building will stay open 24 hours.

The university told students who planned to use the cots to bring their own pillows and blankets, Schott said.

Eighty cots were ready, but only five students slept there on the first night, Fare said.

“It was definitely quiet. ... I fell asleep pretty quickly,” said Schott, who opted for a nearby couch.

A few stayed in lounges in dorms that were open, she said.

Most displaced students went to friends' rooms in other dorms, Fare said. The students can shower in Power Center, a physical fitness center, or other dorms.

“We understand the inconvenience, but the students have been really great and remarkably understanding,” Fare said.

Schott's roommate, who is from Miami, slept in the Duquesne Union, too.

Freshman Angel Ojeda, 19, a biochemistry major, retrieved clothing and belongings from his dorm on Friday. With exams impending, Ojeda grabbed his chemistry book.

“Now I don't have an excuse for not studying,” he said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662or tparrish@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.