Wednesday's power outage on UB's South Campus highlights the need for renovation

Keeping the lights on

Infrastructure is a tricky thing.

It’s the lifeblood that keeps all the essential parts of an operation moving. But that’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on something so mundane when there are flashy things to spend it on.

South Campus lost power on Wednesday morning and it wasn’t restored until roughly 3 a.m. Thursday morning. In the meantime, the university twiddled its thumbs for a bit, notified students sitting in darkened classrooms that it would probably be a good idea to go away for a while, threw some bottled water and glow sticks to students living on campus – nothing livens up a power outage like a rave – belatedly canceled evening classes and let everyone know that the problem had been fixed for them in time for classes on Thursday.

What a proactive response.

The cause of the outage was that of the two power mains to South Campus, one burned out – meaning it was probably too old or overloaded to hold out anymore. Generators kept sprinkler systems and emergency exit signs on, but the entire day was pretty much written off as a divine, uncontrollable act.


President Satish K. Tripathi has talked about how South Campus needs work and that state funds are needed to do so. But are we sure? With new renovations on North Campus, the building of the downtown medical campus and rising tuition we all pay every semester, doubt lingers. UB students and students nationwide are willingly taking on crushing debt in an attempt to get an education.

Missing a day of class is technically money lost for students. Losing a graduate seminar on Wednesday cost a student roughly $360 worth of classes – and that’s just calculated at in-state tuition rates.

With the medical school moving off South Campus to downtown and the tumultuous situation in the University Heights, we can’t be sure that UB’s original campus isn’t just being forgotten about.

We need to put pressure on those in power to fix our infrastructure. If South Campus really matters to the university, then it needs to be taken care of in a timely and attentive manner. What’s the point of having three campuses if one is just going to slip into decay and rot? There needs to be some level of commitment. Any other course of action does a massive disservice to those students who live and study on South Campus.

Furthermore, we need to fight for action at a state and federal level. The United States got an overall grade of D+ for its infrastructure, according to a report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2013. A fresh report card for New York will be put out on Sept. 29, and it seems doubtful that the Empire State will score very high. Despite Albany and Washington D.C. both not seeming capable of much, pressure should be applied.

We have to show that these things matter to us, because they do. At the very basic level, infrastructure issues fall most heavily on the masses – the middle and lower classes. When things have to be patched up or haphazardly repaired as they fall apart, it affects us all.

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