Power outages disrupt CSU midterms Thursday morning before Spring Break

Stuart Smith

As students were sitting down to take midterms on Thursday morning, a total of 26 buildings in the northeastern area of the CSU campus lost power.  

For about 15 minutes at 10 a.m., power was lost at buildings on campus including the Lory Student Center, Clark, and Engineering, said Dell Rae Ciaravola, CSU risk and public safety communications manager. There was also a power outage on campus at around 8 a.m., but few people had classes affected by it due to the early time of day.


Reportedly, multiple classes were canceled or let out early as a result of the power outage, while other classes, mainly those with midterms, continued with their plans, adapting to the changing environment to take their tests.

Max Dillon, a senior political science major, was in Clark C for his Latin American Revolutions class, and was in the middle of a midterm when the power went out.

“We were literally in the middle of our midterm exam,” Dillon said. “(We were) in the middle of (Clark C), so when the lights went out, it was total, pitch black darkness.”

Despite the darkness, Dillon’s class continued with the midterm.

“People just started pulling out their phones and turning on the flashlights, and were kind of looking around at each other, trying to figure out what we were going to do,” Dillon said. “Professor Yarrington… (said) ‘just continue working on your exams … and I’ll just add 5 minutes of time at the end of the class.’”

While Dillon said that in general his class thought the situation was humorous, other classes around were more stressed about it.

“You could hear classrooms around us go ‘ugh,’ when the lights went out, and someone from another class checked in on us to see if we were still in there,” Dillon said. “And when the lights (came back on) there was a sigh of relief, not only from our class, but you could hear it in all the classrooms around us as well.”

Hannah Rockwell, a freshman civil engineering major, did not have a midterm at the time, but did have her physics recitation in Engineering 100 disrupted by the outage. The Engineering building also had its fire alarms go off about 15 minutes before 10 a.m., but it turned out to be a false alarm.

“The power went out, and the fire alarm’s lights were still going off, so it was like there were strobe lights,” Rockwell said.

Soon after the power in Engineering went out, the building’s backup generators powered up, but that resulted in emergency alarms going off.


Engineering students on campus also received emails from the department after the power outages, notifying them that the outages had affected the Engineering and Grover buildings, resulting in various resources for them being closed for the day, including the Idea2Product 3D printing and scanning lab.

 Ciaravola wrote other buildings that were affected were Student Services, Computer Science, Behavioral Science, Microbiology, Facilities North and South, Centennial Hall and Chemistry.

The two power outages were caused by Facilities Management and the City of Fort Collins testing the campus electrical system, Ciaravola wrote.

“The initial tests were successful,” Ciaravola wrote. “However, Facilities Management uncovered two separate problems following the initial tests that caused the power outages.”

However, the electrical system was stable as of 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, Ciaravola wrote. 

Ciaravola assured that “subsequent issues will be resolved at a later date and during a time that is not disruptive to campus activities.”

Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @sbodine120.