Power returns after outage closes City College campus

The Transfer Center, packed with students trying to make application deadlines, was evacuated.


David Ahumada

San Diego Community College police evacuated the San Diego City College campus after a late-morning power outage. Photo by David Ahumada, City Times

Brian Mohler, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Nov. 30, 4:35 p.m.:

San Diego City College President Ricky Shabazz said he was meeting with campus administration leaders discussing budget issues when the lights turned off.

Someone immediately joked in the darkness, did we at least pay the power bill?

SDG&E outage map
SDG&E’s online outage map from 11:38 a.m. showed a large portion of downtown San Diego was impacted by a power outage. SDG&E screenshot.

An SDG&E power outage darkened City College and a large portion of downtown San Diego, Balboa Park and Golden Hill at approximately 11:15 a.m. on Friday. A cause has not yet been determined.

The situation in the Transfer Career Center was no laughing matter. When the power went out, the center was packed with students hoping to speak with a UCSD representative.

She was helping students with last-minute admission essays because University of California transfer applications are due at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30.

“Students who planned to get help with their draft essays are unable to do so because of the power outage,” said Ace Davis, a student support specialist.

Said Ricky Flayhive, the center’s employment engagement tech: “I hope the students who were in the middle of their essays were using autosave. Students using Microsoft Word on campus computers probably lost all their work.”

City College Cosmetology students
David Ahumada
City College cosmetology students left their darkened classrooms and waited on the corner of 16th and C streets. Photo by David Ahumada, City Times.

Some students were waiting around, desperate for the power to come back on. Others were trying to use laptops and mobile hotspots to finish up their essays when Nesha Savage, dean of student development and matriculation, came in and told everyone a decision had been made to close the campus and everyone had to vacate the center.

Savage apologized to the disappointed students, saying she was following a directive from the vice president of student services, Denise Wisenhunt.

Savage was in the meeting with Shabazz when the power went out. The administration decided to close campus over concern for student safety.

“Some of the buildings have backup generators so there is some power, but not enough to operate the college,” said Shabazz.

Transfer Center interview
City Times reporter Brian Mohler interviewed Nesha Savage, dean of student development and matriculation, as students filtered out of the Transfer Center. Photo by David Ahumada, City Times.

Students reluctantly left the transfer center. Many waited outside hoping to still speak to the UCSD representative, who stayed to talk to lingering students and calm their nerves.

Art student Zahra Hooshyar was planning to finalize her essay for UC Berkeley. She was counting on help from the UCSD representative and felt like “freaking the f— out.”

“I feel like a porcupine in a balloon factory,” she said. “I spent all my free time working on my essay these past two weeks.

“I decided to start over this morning and my essay contains really personal information. I have questions about how much detail I should include because this is make-or-break to me.”

Sofia Garcia was feeling more fortunate.

“I didn’t lose my essay when the power went,” she said.

Garcia wants to study literature and was working on her application to UCSD. She already got her application in for SDSU, ahead of the deadline.

The California State University priority application window was also set to close at 11:59 p.m. Earlier this week, the CSU system, which includes SDSU, extended its deadline until December 15 due to wildfires affecting students and their families throughout the state.

Sociology student Aida Guillen said she was grateful for the extension because she’s been experiencing her own hardships recently. She planned to apply to CSU campuses in Chico State, Stanislaus, Humboldt and San Francisco.

“I had my essay questions finished early,” said Guillen. “But my laptop was stolen the Friday before Thanksgiving break.

“Everything was closed that week and I had problems accessing a computer to work on it. I borrowed a computer from my sister but it didn’t have Word and (I) wasn’t familiar with the program I was using.

I accidentally clicked something and deleted all my work.”

Guillen didn’t lose her work this time but was one of the students hoping to get last-minute help with her essay for applications to UC campuses in Berkeley, Riverside, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara.

“I wish the UC system would extend its deadline too,” Guillen said.

SDCCD police
Brian Mohler
SDCCD police went from classroom to classroom, notifying students that campus was closed. Photo by Brian Mohler, City Times.

Guillen might get her wish. Jack Beresford, public information officer for San Diego Community College District tweeted  “… the college is reaching out to the University of California to see if students can get an extension.”

Fridays are typically slower on campus, although the 6th annual Student Leadership Summit was taking place and had to be cut short.

City College radio station Jazz 88.3 was still running after the power went out, but staff reported battery power could only carry them for an additional 40 minutes.

Planning for Newscene, the school’s weekly 30-minute news broadcast, was interrupted when the power went out. Newscene students scrambled to recreate their news coverage plan and filming was moved to an off-campus location.

Campus police officers surveyed buildings and asked those on campus to vacate the premises. At approximately 12:40 p.m., while the Newscene staff was packing up to leave campus, some of the lights in the C building turned back on and computers rebooted.

At 2 p.m., the district tweeted “The power is back on at @SDCityCollege but the campus remains closed. Tonight’s dance performance at the Saville Theatre will continue as scheduled.”

Nov. 30, 1:25 p.m.:

An SDG&E power outage darkened San Diego City College and a large portion of downtown San Diego, Balboa Park and Golden Hill at approximately 11:15 a.m. on Friday.

Campus administrators were in a meeting at the time and decided to close the campus. 

Watch for an update here today and follow @sdcitytimes on Twitter for the latest info.

Visuals editor David Ahumada contributed to this report.


Nov. 30, 4:35 p.m.: This headline “Power outage closes City College campus” and post were updated to reflect new reporting and confirmations by City College, the district and SDG&E that power returned.