UT-Austin students face power outages around campus

Kaushiki Roy, News Reporter

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as part of the September 8 flipbook.

When freshman Erin Luna began her first year at UT, she did not expect to face a power outage at Jester West within the first two weeks of being on campus.

Multiple University buildings have lost power in the last week, including Jester West and San Jacinto Residence Hall. The University’s ferris wheel also lost power with students aboard the ride during the Longhorn Family Reunion event on Sept. 1.

Luna, an undeclared major in the college of Liberal Arts, said she was in the middle of her online class when the lights went off in her dorm.

“I feel like it would have been nice to know what to do,” Luna said. “We were kind of playing it by ear and I think it was probably hard for students who had mandatory online classes since the WiFi went out too.”

Luna said the outage lasted for about 30 minutes before she received a notification that the power had come back.

Architecture sophomore Colin Cantwell said he was on the ferris wheel when it lost power during the event.

“As we were slowly moving up to the top, we noticed that we’d been stuck at like this one spot for like a little longer than normal,” Cantwell said. “We saw that the event organizers came together at the bottom and a small huddle of people formed at the base of the ride. At this point, we thought something was up.”

Cantwell said he was stuck on top of the ferris wheel for an hour as firefighters manually helped students off of the ride.

“We were up there for a little bit, and then at one point they decided to let the people on the bottom of the ride off,” Cantwell said. “But I guess that threw the ride off balance and it started swinging back and forth for a while until someone pushed the emergency manual break. And that’s where we were stuck for about 45 minutes under the sun.”

Cantwell said the most frustrating part of the experience was the lack of communication from personnel while they were stuck on the ride.

“I feel like someone could have relayed just a little bit of information about what was going on,” Cantwell said. “All we really got was like one of the medical staff would kind of look up at us and give us a smile, but seeing the growing crowd of people working on trying to solve this problem was not really helping any of our anxieties.”

University administration did not respond to a request for comment as to why the ferris wheel malfunctioned.

Veronica Trevino, media manager for Financial and Administrative Services, said several campus buildings lost partial to total power between 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 31. Trevino said the ferris wheel power outage was unrelated to other building outages on campus.

“A valve failure in the university power plant’s gas turbine generator system caused full or partial power outages in several campus buildings including Jester Garage, San Jacinto Residence Hall,” Trevino said in an email. “The power outage was communicated to emergency and facility operational teams and over the Utilities and Energy Management’s Twitter page.”

Editor’s note: The September 8 flipbook version of this story did not include the necessary information about the relation between the building and ferris wheel power outages.  The Texan would like to clarify that Trevino said  the ferris wheel power outage was unrelated to other building power outages on campus.