Stillings Dining Hall and surrounding residence halls unexpectedly lost power for an unknown reason on Monday, Nov. 14, just after 12 p.m. In the hours that followed, maintenance trucks lined Stillings’ west side. Workers redirected vehicles while they saw to the problem, which turned out to be more complicated than they originally thought. Sawyer, Scott, McLaughlin and Congreve Halls were among those affected by the outage.
It wasn’t until 4 p.m. that residents were contacted about plans to restore power. Residential Life Assistant Director Colleen Sullivan urged those affected to be patient and wait for the generators to start up, or go somewhere else until power was fully restored through the main line. She provided several on-campus options for students who wished to leave their halls, like the Hamel Recreation Center, Memorial Union Building (MUB) and Dimond Library.
“UNH Facilities is currently getting large generators to connect to your building,” she said. “This will happen in the next few hours… If you need any more information, we will be keeping hall staff notified of any changes.”
The generators were up by 6:30 p.m. and restored minimal functionality to residence halls in the area. Because the heat wasn’t running at full capacity, students were told to close their windows before it got dark in order to maintain a suitable temperature and prevent the generators’ emissions from entering the buildings.
A campus-wide alert went out shortly thereafter, alerting the unaffected regions on campus of the situation. Philbrook and Holloway Commons dining halls then received an abnormally high number of visitors, accounting for those students whose closest dining hall was shut down.
Stillings’ surrounding area was run on generators until about 12:30 the next morning when a brief 30-minute outage indicated the switch back to the main power line.
Although the power was fully restored, it’s still unclear what the initial problem was. According to UNH Energy and Utilities Director Matt O’Keefe, a construction project near Stillings is at the head of their investigation.
Perhaps the worst of it all, Stillings remained closed throughout the night and the following morning. This was surprisingly the most controversial aspect of the entire ideal for some. Scott Hall resident Dan Bamber expressed his feelings on the topic.
“I can handle no power. I can handle that, and closing my windows for a night, sure. But Stillings is closed and it’s buffalo chicken tonight. That’s the worst part of this,” he said. Stillings remained closed until noon the following day.
Despite how long the power was out, the situation was handled efficiently and to the residents’ benefit. The internet was out, so for those who were unable to see the multiple email updates, hall directors and resident assistants (RAs) walked door to door explaining the situation.
More information regarding the cause of the outage should be released over the next several days, after the energy and utilities department has had enough time to investigate and establish a concrete explanation.