During an ordinary power outage, the lights may go out, but emergency lights and the internet stay on. On April 26, however, the campus faced the opposite problem: lights stayed on, but the internet went down. The effects were immediate. K-Card readers could not let residents into their dorms. In this unprecedented outage, Wi-Fi and Ethernet signals were down for more than 3 hours.
“Everything depends on having good electricity and reliable electricity and Gambier’s not the greatest for that,” Vice President for Library and Information Services Ron Griggs said.
The problem began at 10:30 p.m., when the emergency electrical panel failed. Most of Kenyon’s electrical needs are built into a main panel. If that fails, the emergency electrical panel powers emergency lights, elevators and the server room for internet. This emergency panel can usually be sustained on a battery for a half an hour. If the main electrical panel fails, then a backup generator comes to sustain the server. However, there exists no support beyond that battery to power the server if the power is still on, as was the case last week. The battery stopped at 11 and the internet was restored at about 2:30 a.m., according to Griggs.
Griggs said that in his 25 years at Kenyon, this failure of the emergency electrical panel has never happened.
Griggs said part of the problem is that Olin and Chalmers libraries, where the emergency electrical panel is, cannot support more power from a backup generator — which is a possible solution to having a power source backup for the emergency electrical panel.
“It’s one of the reasons why we would be thinking about a new library,” Griggs said. “Because we know that the electrical system in Chalmers is both very old and maxed out. We can’t add any new electrical circuits. If we wanted to create some new space for students and add plugs, we couldn’t.”