Power Outages Inconvenience Community
By Brianda Reyes '14, Managing News Editor
The College experienced a series of brief power outages throughout the last week, one of which greatly affected the Vespers held on Sunday, Dec. 5.

Brian Pare, the Electric Shop supervisor, asserted that the power outages did not stem from campus grounds. Investigations show that the outages rooted from equipment and circuit problems from Western Mass Electric Company (WMECo).

“Given the external causes we were unable to avoid or forewarn these events,” Pare said. “Our Facilities Department personnel have responded to each outage to reset and restart systems as quickly as possible.”

One of the places that was most affected was Johnson Chapel. The building lost its heat early Sunday afternoon and caused problems for the musical performance. Mallorie Chernin, director of choral music and an organizer for the Vespers, explained that without heat in the building, the tuning of the organ was ruined and both the performers and the audience shivered through the services. The instrument, which had been professionally tuned a day earlier, was “nearly half a step flat.” Consequently, the trumpets experienced difficulty when trying to tune to the instrument.

The Hallelujah Chorus, which is usually sung at the end, had to be performed on the piano, which had not been tuned. The Flute Choir had problems with the lack of heat, as well.

Chernin asked Campus Police to make heating Johnson Chapel a priority at around 2:42 p.m. The heat returned to the building shortly before the first performance at approximately 4 p.m. Although it was too late to fix the organ, the musical performance managed to continue without the instrument. The heat took some time to fill the room so the audience and performers left their coats on for a while, but they warmed up as the performance progressed and they were able to take them off.

“Catholic Religious Advisor Chris Clark made an announcement at the beginning of the service, and the audience understood that these were circumstances beyond our control,” Chernin said.

Although some expressed concerns about the event being cancelled, Chernin explained that doing so would have been disappointing. They would not cancel the event unless the power was completely out.

“The Choral Society, Flute Choir, Music 21 Singers, other musicians and readers worked too hard to lightly cancel such an event,” she said. “[Also] audience members would have been very disappointed.”

Chernin described the experience as a “potential nightmare” that turned into a “bad dream.” Despite the stressful situation, she and the other participants of the Vespers kept positive and she states that they were rewarded with praise from the audience.

“My favorite comment came from an audience member after the service — he said that the service and performance [had] warmed his heart, so what’s a little less heat?” Chernin said.

Other power-related problems plagued the rest of the campus. In the library, the students had to endure the cold for a brief period of time while the heat was reset in the building. Also, many were late to classes or events because the power outages reset their alarm clocks. The College’s electrical department is doing everything they can to prevent these outages from happening again.

“We will be meeting with WMECo to assess the root cause of their system problems and determine if they are taking the necessary corrective actions to prevent recurrence,” Pare said.

Issue 11, Submitted 2010-12-08 03:32:45