The Great Arcadia Blackout

by Doriane Feinstein on March 27, 2018

I walk into the library and head toward the basement like usual, finding an unoccupied computer and scanner to complete my homework. With snow slowly piling up outside the window, inside was the only place to be. I mindlessly log in, the overhead light flashes, and suddenly—  darkness. The lights flicker one last time as if straight from a horror film, until they go out for good. My Resident Assistant group chat explodes on my phone. It’s not just the library that’s gone dark; power is out all over campus, except for Oak Summit Apartments.

With winds blowing over 50 mph, none of us should have been shocked. But like everyone else, I was completely caught off guard. This was not part of my meticulously planned Friday afternoon. I called my piano professor to reschedule our lessons and went to Oak, where RAs were called in for an emergency meeting to discuss what to do if Oak lost power. As soon as our supervisor left to make a phone call, the lights flickered. Shouts and groans filled the room and someone jumped on a table as if trying to communicate with Apollo himself: “Why here? Why now? During midterms!? Really?” Our attempts at godly communication were futile.

A mix of RAs from campus and Oak looking fly.

As annoying and, frankly, scary as the blackout was, it actually turned out to be kind of fun. Oak’s backup generator kicked in, allowing us to use the outlets in the hallways to charge our phones. Everyone congregated in the halls, chatting away. Funny how being able to charge our phones immediately lifted our spirits.

Though our rooms were dark, the halls were dimly lit. I think I met 20 new people just by strolling through the hallways. Things were going pretty smoothly until the backup generator went out.  Undaunted, some residents brought out string lights to lay on the hallway floors. Some played hide-and-seek.

Luckily, the power outage occurred on the weekend so students would not have to miss class. Though food was provided for every student in the Chat, it was difficult to get there through the harsh winds. Eventually, facilities ordered pizza for the Oak apartments. The RAs also went out of their way to work with students and offer their food for anyone who had trouble obtaining their own.

The RAs took this opportunity to bond with staff and students, especially consoling those who were distraught from the outage. We played games to entertain our residents and made sure those who were able to had a safe plan to leave for home. Our supervisors also provided us with glow sticks to hand out to each room to use at night time to help us move around without bumping into everything. Supporting my residents was fulfilling in an indescribable way.

It’s so easy to get swept away by the never-ending to-do list that comes with senior year. We had to work together to navigate our building when it was too dark to read, and we got the chance to communicate with each other with undivided attention.

- Dori Feinstein

At the end of the day, our two-day blackout was one for the books. Of course, it couldn’t have come at a worse time— midterms are hard enough without a major weather event. It did, however, force me to take a step back. I wasn’t nodding off on my computer since I couldn’t use it, and rationing battery juice kept me from obsessively checking my phone.

I have a lot going on in my life, and it’s so easy to get swept away by the never-ending to-do list that comes with senior year. We had to work together to navigate our building when it was too dark to read, and we got the chance to communicate with each other with undivided attention. I especially enjoyed the personal time with my residents and friends.

So while beyond inconvenient, I’m grateful for the blackout’s blessing in disguise. Sometimes we need to look through the darkness to be able to truly see when there’s light.