Severed cable causes widespread power failure

Photo credit: Ally Carmichael. Derwent was one of many colleges to be hit by the power cut

Photo credit: Ally Carmichael. Derwent was one of many colleges to be hit by the power cut

Students across campus were without internet and electricity on Monday afternoon. The power went off at 14.20 and was restored at 17.00. The University has confirmed the chaos was due “to a cable being inadvertently severed during construction work” and that “the emergency lighting and fire detection/alarm system remained in operation throughout.”

Disruptions affected Derwent, James, Vanbrugh, Halifax and Langwith Colleges. The University library lost its internet connection and Heslington Hall was also without power or internet.

The power cut also affected the Yorkshare VLE and York webmail, which were unavailable even from off campus. Other central University IT systems were also hit, rendering campus computers useless even in colleges where the power stayed on.

Lectures in Derwent and Langwith College were evacuated by students, as was the Courtyard bar, where customers were informed they would receive refunds for their food. Electricity returned to Derwent and Langwith college and the internet was restored across campus around five o’clock in the afternoon.

The lack of internet caused distress, particularly for those with essay deadlines. Lucinda Smyth, an English Literature first year student from Vanbrugh College, had her internet restored after three hours. Smyth expressed her frustration, deploring the lack of connection as a “despicable disgrace” and that waiting for Google had been “like waiting for Godot.”

Students in Derwent College were provided with mince pies and tea from catering staff, amidst fears they would be unable to serve residents their evening meal, which in the end they were. Derwent’s college administrator told Nouse she believed the situation “was dealt with as rapidly as was possible under the circumstances.”


  1. huh! i missed the whole thing! wouldn’t have minded it at all. bit of excitement for once…

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  2. 6 Dec ’11 at 5:16 pm

    William Chun

    Lucinda, I completely agree, I too felt the anguish over those three hours and I too feel it was like Samuel Beckett’s acclaimed ‘Waiting for Godot’. I can hardly articulate my grief, I felt in those three hours it was possible my degree was going to suffer irrevocably, and I may even be left with a third, or worse an outright fail. I have emailed my board of studies re this, and expect some academic compensation when they are giving me my final grade – I suggest you do the same. I had to cancel my lacrosse match, which made me feel bad because we’re not doing very well this year, even though I restrung my lacrosse stick. I like lacrosse.

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  3. “despicable disgrace”? Steady on..

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  4. Although frustrating, it was hardly a catastrophe. Have an impending deadline? Don’t leave your assignment until the last minute! Can’t get internet? Get on a bus into town and go sit in a cafe – there’s free internet access in pretty much all of them these days.

    It was a simple mistake. It was dealt with swiftly. Get over it.

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  5. Interesting reading about the ‘disaster’. I agree with Big Deal that it can hardly be labelled as a catastrophe and 3 hrs isn’t the end of the world. In some parts of the country you can expect 3hr outages every week, so it isn’t all bad.


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