The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday December 6th

'Everyone was nose and hair:' classes went on despite Wednesday's power outage

A power outage on central campus led to many classroom disruptions and early cancellations around 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Sophomore Rachel Maguire was in her cognitive psychology class in Davie Hall when she said the lights suddenly turned off.

“The power went out in the middle of my class,” she said. “We were all pretty freaked out.”

Maguire said her teacher, Giulia Pancani, tried to keep lecturing but without electricity and Wi-Fi, but she could not cover the planned material and dismissed class early.

“Me and three other people had clinical psychology after that in the same classroom,” she said. “We sat around talking about the power outage until the next class started.”

Maguire said her clinical psychology teacher, Arundati Nagendra, had similar difficulties teaching during the power outage.

“We had a discussion for 15 minutes about the readings, and then she let us go,” she said.

Maguire said the power outage and weather cancellations have thrown off her class schedules.

“Unfortunately, we could not really have class at all,” she said. “It’s putting us really far behind.”

Political science professor Timothy McKeown said he taught his international environmental politics class despite the power outage.

“When I got to my classroom the power was already out in Murphey Hall, but a significant part of my class was there and ready to go,” he said.

The lack of Wi-Fi, McKeown said, was more difficult than the lack of electricity.

“I couldn’t use the overheads, and I couldn’t talk about some things on Sakai as I had planned to talk about,” he said. “But I remembered what was on the slides, so I was able to do it even though I couldn’t show the material.”

McKeown said he was able to adjust his plans to accommodate the power outage.

“I’ve been teaching for decades, and most of the time I’ve been teaching, I haven’t been using things like PowerPoint,” he said. “I have lots of experience in the pre-electronic world to draw on so it was a relatively easy transition for me.”

Senior India Lassiter, who was in McKeown’s class, said the lack of light didn’t hinder class too much. 

“It wasn’t too bad to see at the beginning,” Lassiter said. “Luckily we had windows, which lit us in fading gray light.”

But Lassiter said as class went on and the sun went down, she could barely see McKeown.

“By the end I could see basically only his silhouette,” she said. “Everyone was nose and hair.”

The lack of electricity, Lassiter said, minimized distractions and the time in class was used productively even when it was difficult to see.

“Slowly notes became unreadable, but we kept talking and philosophizing,” she said. “I think it was fine that my professor didn’t cancel class. We didn’t need technology, and still had really productive discussion.”

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