NEWS

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February 6, 2007

Compton house under repairs after week of power failures

An overloaded circuit and blown fuse were to blame for a week’s worth of power failures affecting students in the south wing of Shoreland Residence Hall’s Compton house. The troubles prompted makeshift repairs over the weekend with more permanent fixes expected this week.

Residents first noticed problems late on Monday, January 29, in the form of decreased electrical current and power loss to most rooms on the south end of the eighth floor.

“We have been coordinating closely with the Shoreland facility manager and with Residence Halls and Commons to evaluate and rectify the situation as quickly as possible,” said Paul Ryer, assistant director of Housing, in an e-mail to Compton house residents late last week, after numerous students complained to resident heads Paul and Karen Deak.

When electricians arrived at the start of the weekend to assess the situation, they found a larger problem than they had originally anticipated.

Shoreland building manager Mark Sullivan later informed students that an overloaded circuit servicing the affected rooms could not be fully repaired. In an e-mail to residents, Sullivan said the electrician found outlets in one of the room’s kitchen and closet that could ease the load on the existing circuit, serving as a temporary fix to the immediate situation. Sullivan said the job of rewiring the affected rooms would require additional electrical work to ensure a permanent fix.

“We want to get this problem fixed right, which will require a few days to sort out the original wiring and separate apartments from their original undersized capacity,” Sullivan said in an e-mail to residents.

The power failures and surges left students with few options for convenient electricity sources.

“My desk had power so my computer and lamp have been up and running, but my bathroom, overhead lights, and one wall have been without power at times,” said Arianna Sundick, a third-year in the College and a Compton House resident. “It is frustrating to shower in the dark, but it isn’t the end of the world; many rooms were affected to a greater extent than [mine] was.”

In coping with the initial power failures, Karen Deak advised students to “use electricity sparingly for the next few days” in a February 1 e-mail prior to the temporary repairs. Both Sullivan and Deak encouraged students to use the microwave and refrigerator in the communal house lounge to lessen the load of heavy amperage devices in the affected rooms.

Part of the temporary fix involved making two small openings above the stove in one of the rooms to access an electrical box behind the wall. Sullivan said the housekeeping staff covered the openings temporarily and plan to plaster the wall this week.

Ryer said building engineers have ordered the necessary materials to begin repairs this week, which may involve “rewiring, drilling, and access to a few student rooms.” In terms of how the housing office handled the situation, Sundick said, “I feel that they have adequately responded to the problem now but I do not feel that they did so originally. It took us a few nights to make them understand that this was in fact a very large problem. So in short, they could have responded faster.”