Backup Generator Failure Leaves Pomona Students In The Dark


Three generators outside a Pomona dorm
Three generators being used during the south campus power outage at Pomona College on Jan. 29. (Marc Rod • The Student Life)

Power went out in most facilities on Pomona College’s South Campus Monday, including dorms, dining halls, and academic and administrative buildings, from the early morning until 2 p.m.

Southern California Edison was scheduled to perform maintenance on the main power generator lines that serve all 5Cs, requiring SCE to turn off power to the colleges from 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. The colleges’ backup generators were expected to be able to meet the electrical demand.

However, one of Pomona’s generators failed, causing a power outage that left students on Pomona’s South Campus in the dark for hours, wrote Robert Robinson, the assistant vice president of facilities and campus services, in an email to TSL.

“[The failure of] one of the generators … had a cascading effect that required the shut-down of the feeder that provides power to South Campus,” he wrote.

Many South Campus dwellers woke up to pitch-dark hallways and a closed Frank Dining Hall, which Sarah Varenhorst PO ’20 said disrupted her morning routine.

“[I] did essentially have to shower, brush teeth, etc. in the dark,” Varenhorst wrote in a message to TSL.

Academic buildings such as Thatcher Music Building, Pendleton Dance Center, and Lebus Court lost power entirely, while Hahn Hall, Lincoln Hall, Carnegie Building, Crookshank Hall, Mason Hall, and Pearsons Hall experienced repeated interruptions. Jessica Orvis PO ’21 attended class in Hahn Hall in the afternoon, which she said had many interruptions due to the outage.

“We eventually had to stop using the projector altogether and I felt like we missed out on a part of class because of it,” Orvis said.

Robinson apologized for the inconvenience caused by the power outage.

“[Facilities] appreciates the patience, understanding, and efforts by the members of the Pomona College community… [during] this disruption,” he wrote.

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