Last Tuesday morning, more than 20 Baylor buildings lost power when a fuse blew on the overhead power lines on Seventh Street. Full power was restored by 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. Students received text and email alerts about the outage and were instructed to be in contact with professors in lieu of potential class cancellations.
Many professors either canceled or move classes outside. Some, however, opted to carry on as usual and teach without power. For some, this meant trekking through dark stairwells and sitting in muggy classrooms. Apart from the stairs, no one was put at apparent risk by going to class, as the temperature inside was not hot enough to bring on heat exhaustion. However, if anyone was in a wheelchair or had crutches, they were unable to attend classes above or below ground floors due to the elevators being out.
With the factors of safety and accessibility in mind, there should be a policy made for class cancellations in case of a power outage. Put simply, all classes in affected buildings should be canceled. Having an overall policy would eliminate confusion on whether or not a student should attend class.
This editorial is not our way of trying to get out of classes. Rather, it is our hope that this editorial helps to point out and solve issues with holding class in a powerless building.
First is the aforementioned issue of accessibility. Hopefully, professors took students with physical disabilities into consideration when the power outage occurred. The Lariat has not heard otherwise. However, should a person be unable to use stairs, he or she would be forced to take an absence if the class was not on a ground floor.
Safety also comes into question in a power outage. In buildings with enclosed staircases, like Tidwell Bible Building, students had to guide themselves through the darkness via cellphone flashlights. Utter darkness and stairs do not mix well, especially when crowded. People could have easily fallen and gotten hurt.
Lastly, the actual class time during the power outage was inefficient for many. Professors couldn’t use PowerPoints, students were distracted by the difference of the environment, and occasional surges of power got everyone off-topic. Several professors elected to have class outdoors. Although students having been begging for years to have class outside, we could probably all agree that it is distracting.
It seems cliche to say students could have used the inefficient class time to study, but it is true. If classes were canceled, perhaps the professor could assign a reading and short quiz on Canvas to substitute for class participation grades. If a professor is concerned about getting behind in the syllabus, he or she could post their PowerPoints on Canvas. There are a number of more efficient ways to get the information to student than attempting to hold class in a muggy, dark room. For these reasons, Baylor should create a policy that calls for the cancellation of classes affected by power outages.