Around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, a power outage struck campus and the greater Mount Vernon community, interrupting various seminars, studying sessions and extracurricular activities. It remains unclear why this outage occurred, but according to the Office of Campus Safety, some maintenance workers have speculated that a transformer burst.
The outage on Tuesday night was the first major, campus-wide blackout this academic year, and the first since the four-hour-long outage in November 2021. However, Kenyon is no stranger to power outages: During the 2018-19 academic year, there were three, including two back-to-back outages in the days leading up to Thanksgiving break. The third took place in February 2019 after a severe thunderstorm.
Students quickly flocked to the few locations on campus with backup generators, such as Chalmers Library, the Gund Gallery and the Bookstore, where seats and power outlets were soon in short supply. The two main reading rooms in the library were full, and many of the tables in the atrium of Peirce Dining Hall were at capacity. Some students even traveled to Mount Vernon, though many of the stores lining Coshocton Avenue had also lost power. Both the Village Market and Cromwell Cottage retained power.
At 8:07 p.m., Kenyon students received email and text alerts confirming the outage. The alert said that American Electric Power (AEP) had been contacted to respond to the outage and warned students that power would likely not be restored until 11 p.m.
H. Abbie Erler, associate professor of political science, was in the middle of teaching her Race in Public Policy (PSCI 491.01) seminar when the power went out. “I was impressed with the flexibility and good humor of students in the class who took it all in stride and were eager to find us another space to finish up seminar,” she said. “I don’t think anyone even suggested that we cancel the rest of seminar.” Her class relocated to an upper-level classroom in Chalmers Library, where she continued to teach.
Audrey Mueller ’22 was in that seminar. Although she acknowledged that the transition from a traditional seminar room to the crowded Chalmers Library was a bit awkward, she was happy the seminar could continue. “I’m glad we were able to push on, but it was definitely weird, especially once we ended up in a library classroom and we’re talking about the political effects of the carceral state while there are other people studying for chem in the front of the room,” she wrote in a message to the Collegian.
Not everyone was so lucky. Sally Smith ’23, who was in the middle of a history seminar when the lights went out, had her class cut short and had to migrate to the Wendy’s in Mount Vernon to complete her work. “The unexpected power outage was incredibly stressful for my classmates, coworkers, and myself,” she wrote to the Collegian.
Despite the alert’s notice that power would not return until 11 p.m., the outage lasted just under two hours, and power was restored across campus at 9:15 p.m.