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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Students express concern about multiple blackouts, spotty WiFi at The Green

Students were directed to finish up their assignments on campus during multiple WiFi outages and blackouts

By KATHLEEN QUINN — campus@theaggie.org

The student housing complex, The Green, opened its doors in September 2020. With a 3,300-bed capacity, it constitutes the nation’s largest student housing project according to Good Day Sacramento. However, according to many students who moved into The Green at the beginning of fall quarter 2021, there have been multiple blackouts and WiFi issues that have impacted studying, assignment submission, elevator usage and prevented entrance to parts of the complex.

The Green opened the first two buildings of the complex on Sept. 15, 2020, with the remaining opening up in September 2021. 

Deleo Garcia-Lopez, a second-year environmental policy and planning major, said that since he moved into The Green in September, there have been five or six backouts.

“It isn’t a lot, but relative to living here for two to three months, it’s more than enough,” Garcia-Lopez said.

Michael Sheehan, the associate vice chancellor of housing, dining and divisional operations, said the power for The Green is run through PG&E and provided by the City of Davis.

“I believe there have only been a few unplanned outages that were caused by wind events or some other disruption to the incoming power source,” Sheehan said via email.

The Green is considered a Transfer Student Housing Project and currently houses 1,000 first-year transfer students. In Fall 2020, UC Davis admitted 3,022 transfer students

Josefina Flores, a fourth-year psychology major and transfer student, has been living at The Green since the second week of September this year, said one of the power outages lasted almost four hours.

“I remember I was washing clothes when the power went out, so my clothes were all wet,” Flores said.

The power outages impacted key fobs which Flores said she uses to get in and out of certain parts of the building. 

“The power outage shut it off and it caused an error,” Flores said. “I couldn’t get in because the key [fob] wasn’t working.”

The elevator has also become inoperable multiple times since the start of the quarter. 

“Elevators stop working [when] the power goes out,” Sheehan said via email. “If someone is stuck in an elevator then UC Davis Fire will respond to assist.”

According to Sheehan, The Green was designed to have net-zero energy consumption. 

“In order to achieve this, The Green has an all electric infrastructure which is served by a 5.5 Megawatt PV System,” Sheehan said via email.   

Sheehan said that PG&E has scheduled daytime outages that it uses to bring the solar panels online.

“Students are notified about these outages and additional resources are provided in the community center to mitigate some of the scheduled impact,” Sheehan said via email. 

Garcia-Lopez said that the communication they received was to go to campus to complete assignments in the event of a blackout or WiFi outage.

“It’s not really like ‘Oh, we’ll get it done,’ it’s more ‘Please go somewhere else so we can avoid this issue,’ and ‘Please go to campus so you can finish your assignments or whatever you need to get done,’” Flores said.

According to Flores, even when the power was turned back on, the WiFi was still out. 

“I had to go to a friend’s apartment because I needed to turn in an assignment, and I couldn’t access it,” Flores said.

Alex Shvakel, a third-year medical and molecular biology major, said he moved into The Green in late September.

“I remember last time it was 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. at night, people were rushing to the library and the discord was like ‘Oh my gosh, everyone from The Green is coming to campus,” Shvakel said.

Shvakel estimated that one of the WiFi outages lasted almost a full day. 

“The WiFi went out at around 3 p.m. and it didn’t come back on until 12 p.m. the next day,” Shvakel said.

According to Sheehan, issues arise with all new student housing projects, but there does not appear to be significant differences between The Green and other new properties they have worked on. 

Garcia-Lopez said that after moving away from home for the first time, he expected a lot of problems. 

“But I think coming to a place like The Green, you would hope that these issues weren’t as prominent as they are,” Garcia-Lopez said.

According to the housing fee schedule, living at The Green is $3,056 per quarter for a double with a shared bedroom in a shared apartment and up to $6,744 for a single-occupancy studio per quarter.  

“I don’t think the price equates to what we are experiencing,” Garcia-Lopez said.

Shvakel said that compared to a sublease he experienced off-campus during the summer, The Green is a good deal.

“I’m just very grateful to be here,” Shvakel said.  

Sheehan confirmed during one of the recent rain storms there was a leak that impacted a smoke detector on the fourth floor laundry room.

“Leaks are not uncommon for new construction particularly with a project the size of The Green,” Sheehan said via email. 

Garcia-Lopez said he does not think students will receive an explanation for the blackouts soon unless there is an outcry from students.

“I think it’s just the way this place was built,” Garcia-Lopez said. “I think it was just made to look good to have people to move in.” 

Written by: Kathleen Quinn — campus@theaggie.org

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Josefina Flores’ name. The article has been updated to correct the error.

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