Hurricane temporarily shifts some classes online, cancels sessions of others
Flooding and power outages in many Yale buildings forced some professors to move courses online or cancel Thursday class meetings.
James Richardson, Contributing Photographer
At the start of classes for the fall term, most Yalies were looking forward to in-person classes after 18 months without them. But the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck New Haven Wednesday night, knocking out power, flooding buildings across campus and canceling the second day of live learning for many Yalies.
The Yale College Dean’s Office reported that more than 30 Yale buildings located between Prospect Avenue and Whitney Avenue and between Grove Street and Sachem Street lost power. These included all 14 residential colleges and several academic buildings.
Professors teaching in the blacked-out classrooms could choose between moving their instruction back to Zoom, relocating to a building with electricity or rescheduling to a later date once power is restored. By Thursday afternoon, power had returned to all campus buildings except Dow Hall, Dunham Laboratory, Tsai City and Warner House.
“I turned back to the Zoom techniques I’d learned after a year and a half of Zoom U: Yale Edition and did my best to make it work,” Erik Harms, an associate professor in the Anthropology Department, said. “The wonderful students in the class were so forgiving and took it in stride, but the situation felt like a scene from a bad movie, where everything just goes wrong no matter how hard and sincerely people work to get things back to normal.”
Harms had just 15 minutes to reorganize his class for the virtual platform, but he joked that beginning a course about Southeast Asia amid a flood and power outage was fitting because the region has a history of surviving such disasters.
For classes that still took place, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler urged faculty to be accommodating to students whose ability to prepare for and arrive at class was hindered by the storm.
In an email sent to the Yale community, Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd encouraged students to take advantage of Bass Library, Sterling Memorial Library and any empty classrooms if their residences had experienced flooding, power outages or other conditions that could impede learning.
“During the past year and a half, we have learned to expect uncertainty and challenges and to go with the flow,” BJ Casey, a professor in the Psychology Department, wrote in an email to the News. “That said, I have really missed the wonderful in-person interactions with our amazing students, so now I am even more excited to see them all.”
Casey moved her Dunham Laboratory lecture to Zoom both because of the power outage and because the storm prevented Casey, a New York City resident, from reaching her classroom in New Haven.
Lauren Potter ’22 also had to adjust to a sudden change of plans. She planned on taking a course in the Watson Center today, but 20 minutes before the course began, Potter discovered that the professor was canceling the session.
Though she missed Thursday’s lecture, Potter said she is not worried about the storm interrupting her return to campus after a year of remote study.
“I’m happy to be back on campus and able to see my friends, and I know the power outages are only temporary,” Potter, whose off-campus dwelling retained power through the hurricane, said.
In addition to lecture halls and residential colleges, Hurricane Ida also shut down several of Yale’s dining halls and two COVID-19 testing sites for part or all of Thursday.
Hurricane Ida caused the deaths of 23 New Jersey residents, 15 New Yorkers and one person living in Connecticut when it reached the Northeast on Wednesday.