The first day of school at Grand Rapids Community College is today, but for some students, they’ll have to wait a little longer to attend their first class.
GRCC officials sent out an alert to all students and faculty early this morning informing them that the Calkins Science Center was without power and all classes held in the building before 11 a.m. were cancelled. Then around 9:30 a.m. this morning, GRCC sent out alerts via social media, text messages, emails and phone calls informing students that the class cancellations in the Calkins Science Center had been pushed back to 6 p.m. The alert stated that classes starting after 6 p.m. will be held as scheduled.
The school was not only experiencing power outages in the science building, but also in the bookstore and Student Life offices. GRCC was temporarily processing RaiderCards out of the Enrollment Center on the first floor of the Main Building. Other services like advising, counseling and Disability Support Services were also operating out of the Enrollment Center for the time being but have moved back to their original spaces.
According to Consumers Energy, the power was restored at 11 a.m. However, the science building did not immediately reopen to allow time for school officials to clear all the building’s systems to make sure everything is functioning properly according to GRCC’s Director of Communications Dave Murray.
“The power is back at Calkins but… the building is still closed,” Murray said. “They’re working on checking all the systems, elevators, fire (alarms) you name it. That’s a process and that takes time. So the building will be closed for a while but we still have plans to have classes starting at six o’clock tonight in Calkins.”
Parking on campus will be free today as the gates to the parking ramps will be up the entire day.
“The parking gates are up because there was a problem with some of the card readers possibly related to the power outage,” Murray said. “There was confusion, there was problems with some of the readers, so we thought today would be a day we’re going to open some of the gates and we don’t want people to have confusion and challenges on their first day. We want to start the school year off the best way possible. The decision was made to just open the gates. Tomorrow, they’ll be back down again.”
Though school officials sent out several notices to students in the morning, some were still unaware of the closings around campus. Kristhel Peña, 20, of Grand Rapids, showed up to her scheduled class at the Calkins Science Center only to find the building closed.
“I did get some emails, but I didn’t really understand the drafts,” Peña said. “I think I got lucky because I was running late, so it kind of worked, I guess.”
The Collegiate also reached out to Senior Public Information Director of Consumers Energy Roger Morgenstern. Morgenstern said power was restored to campus at 11 a.m.
“Overall in the Grand Rapids area, we’re hoping to get everything restored by midnight tonight…as an educational institution, (GRCC) is a priority,” Morgenstern said.
Morgenstern and his team did indeed accomplish that goal and had the power restored on campus about 12 hours ahead of his original estimate. Morgenstern also commented on how many customers lost power and how many still have yet to be restored.
“Right now, we’re at about 26,000 customers out (of power),” Morgenstern said. “All told statewide, the storm affected power to 65,000, so we’ve restored about 40,000 customers.”
Note: Editor-in-Chief Tatiana Diaz contributed to this report.