Annenberg classes disrupted by power outage

Wallis Annenberg and surrounding buildings experienced an outage late Wednesday night.

Photo of power generator.

Late Wednesday night, Annenberg faculty and students experienced a sudden interruption of lights, devices and energy.

Wallis Annenberg Hall, which houses the school for communication and journalism, briefly lost power at 9:45 p.m. after their primary power generator was abruptly stopped. The primary power malfunction forced the building to resort to an emergency back-up generator through 11 p.m.

In an email, the Marketing Communications team informed faculty of the outage, clarifying that Wallis Annenberg Hall was not the sole building on campus affected by the malfunction.

According to the USC Facilities Planning Management, the outage was caused by “equipment failure in an underground vault at the corner of Watt Way and Downey Way.”

Originally expected to be restored to the primary power source by 10:00 a.m. the following Thursday, the Marketing Communications team sent out another email two hours after their first public announcement notifying faculty of their plans to continue using the emergency back-up generator until 11 p.m.

“Tonight, we will then transition back to the building’s primary power source. This will minimize the impact on classes and events and will give our facilities and IT teams time on Friday morning to address any residual issues,” said Emily Cavalcanti, head of Marketing Communications.

Although occurring late at night, several classes were interrupted by the power outage, including Annenberg classes during the hour.

Jeffery Fellenzer, an associate professor who teaches sports journalism, was in a lecture with his class when the outage occurred. He said this was the first time he had seen this during his 20 years as a faculty member.

“I had never experienced this, [in] all of those years and all of my classes. Over the years, almost all of my classes have been at night,” Fellenzer said. “So I’m very used to being there at night and being there late. And this was the first time I could ever recall the lights going out.”

After the sudden outage, the back-up generators started producing electricity about 20 seconds later and restored power throughout the building.

Students in the building also expressed their concerns about the power outage.

“I immediately went into panic mode and thought there was some sort of explosion or that a dangerous person had infiltrated the building. I think the events of the week prior had me on edge. The room got so quiet you could hear a pin drop,” said sophomore journalism major Dana Hammerstrom. “Walking out of the building was silent too — everyone seemed super wary of what was happening, and I could see people in the media center scrambling.”

The power was restored Thursday night, and Annenberg resumed its normal operations for Friday classes and events.