Duquesne University students weather power outage

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Ryan Schott, a Duquesne University freshman, was stretched out on a couch for a midday nap Friday. A blanket covered his body, his body covered his wallet, and on the ground next to him sat his backpack and his gym bag.

That couch -- set against a window in the ballroom of the Duquesne Union -- was his home, temporarily.

"I claimed it when I got here," he said.

Out of an on-campus population of 3,700, Mr. Schott was one of 1,300 Duquesne students who have been displaced since Thursday, when a power outage caused three campus residence halls to lose electricity and heat.

For Mr. Schott, 19 and originally from Georgia, as well as his fellow students, the displacement will continue through the weekend. The university announced on its website Friday afternoon that the three Duquesne University dorms that lost power Thursday morning will reopen at noon Sunday, although students were able to return to the buildings to retrieve items until 10 p.m. Thursday and between 2 and 4 p.m. Friday.

"University crews are working diligently to restore power to St. Ann, St. Martin and Assumption halls," according to the university's website. "The buildings will reopen on Sunday at noon under regular systems or using generators."

The university determined that a bad cable located in one of the tunnels under its Academic Walk caused the power outage. As a result, classes were canceled Friday but will resume today, and the university has urged students to stay with friends in other residence halls or off-campus, to stay in designated buildings on campus, including in a room of cots and couches that have been set up in the Duquesne Union, or to go home to their parents.

In the three affected buildings, 47 percent of residents have immediate family members who live within an hour of campus, but most of the displaced students are staying with friends on campus or off, Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said.

"Students have been really amazing throughout this entire process," Ms. Fare said, referring to both the displaced students and their hosts. "We know it's an inconvenience."

While Mr. Schott set up camp in the Duquesne Union, his fellow students made their own arrangements.

Freshman Francesca Yazbek, 20, a resident of Assumption Hall, slept on her cousin's couch Thursday night in an on-campus apartment, but she planned to spend the weekend at her parents' home in Weirton, W.Va.

Instead of a couch, Clara DelGrippo and Emily Kinley, both 18-year-old freshmen from Frederick, Md., grabbed a hotel room at $159 a night, spending Thursday night at the Marriott City Center Downtown. That's where they planned to stay Friday night, too.

Ms. Fare said students, who pay between $2,231 and $4,128 a semester for a dorm room, will not be given refunds from their room and board costs or reimbursed for living expenses accrued while the residence halls are closed.

Asked what her first day out of the dorms had been like, Ms. DelGrippo said it's been "crazy."

"Really crazy," she said.

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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