Princeton University to close buildings on New year's, fearing Y2k problems : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Princeton University to close buildings on New Year's, fearing Y2K problems

By RICHARD BRAND The Associated Press 12/07/99 9:38 PM Eastern

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) -- Fearing possible blackouts and computer problems stemming from the Y2K computer bug, Princeton University will close its buildings for 48 hours over New Years, a school official said.

From 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 p.m. on Jan. 2, only members of a Y2K contingency team, essential public safety officers and professors conducting ongoing research projects will be allowed to enter administrative and academic buildings, Director of Public Safety Jerrold Witsil said in a memo to university employees last week.

The university also will disconnect its computer system from the Internet for a seven-hour period around midnight on Jan. 1.

Professors working on approved projects will be able to keep working when the clock strikes midnight.

Employees have been encouraged to unplug nonessential devices like fax machines and television sets to conserve electricity and protect against power surges.

The university has said it is Y2K compliant and that the shutdown is only a precaution.

"It will reduce the startup demand for power should a failure occur, and it will offer protection from spikes, surges, or low voltage conditions if the power supply should become unstable," Witsil said. "We are not predicting that either of these things will happen, but we do not believe we can rule them out completely."

The university has spent millions of dollars to update its database, e-mail and Internet systems in hopes of minimizing the effects of the Y2K bug.

The Year 2000 bug stems from a long-standing programming practice of using only two digits to represent the year. Computers might misread "00" as 1900 unless they have been fixed.

"It is possible that some critical equipment or processes will fail due to a date-sensitive microchip we didn't know about or that external environmental conditions beyond the control of the university will have a more serious impact than expected," Witsil said.

The school will be closed from Dec. 17 until Jan. 3 for winter recess, but students who will not be going home will be allowed to stay in their dormitory rooms.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 08, 1999


L ink

College preparing for worst from Y2K

School planning shelter for 500, which senator calls 'nutty behavior'

By Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel staff

Last Updated: Dec. 3, 1999

Although most officials throughout Wisconsin are playing down the possibility of Y2K-related problems as clocks tick toward midnight on Dec. 31, a Manitowoc County technical college isn't taking any chances.

Should the sky fall, power grids blink out and water taps stop running, the Cleveland campus of Lakeshore Technical College is preparing to provide food, water and shelter for as many as 500 people for up to two weeks.

The college has purchased 2,400 gallons of bottled water and 9 tons of food for what it's calling a "Y2K disaster shelter."

Portable toilets - 24 of them - will be delivered late this month and placed strategically around the campus. Lanterns and extra batteries have been procured in case the lights go out. An emergency diesel engine was bought and an extra fuel tank was rented.

Now all that's needed is a catastrophe.

"We aren't doing this because we believe something will happen," said Dennis Thiel, physical plant director at the college.

But in case something does happen, the college is prepared.

The co-chairman of a legislative committee reviewing year 2000 computer preparedness, however, described the plans as "nutty behavior that isn't fitting of a public institution."

Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said: "This is a strange overreaction that just heightens the existing hyperactivity over this issue. I frankly think we have to question the quality of their instruction, if this is the depth of their thinking."

Thiel proposed a Y2K shelter while upgrading the school boilers and power systems.

If there is a Y2K cataclysm, the shelter would be open to all residents of Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties, or at least the 500 who get there first. People will be housed in the cafeteria unless they end up staying awhile; then they would move into classrooms.

Thiel said the tax-supported college spent $1,500 for bottled water and $15,000 for food.

"I bought oatmeal for breakfast. I bought a variety of canned goods, beef stews, macaroni and cheese; they all come in cans. I've got the coffees, the powdered beverages for children like juice," Thiel said.

"When you start this, where do you stop? Do you just get a couple of cans of food? If you're going to do it, you've got to see it through to the end."

If the shelter is not needed or if food is left over, surplus supplies will be donated to local food pantries.

"It's thinking ahead and looking down the line. If something happens, we don't want to be hit," college spokeswoman Tammie Stahl said.

Other state officials who are monitoring Y2K compliance said it's unlikely there will be any problems on Jan. 1, and even if there are, few people would probably go to a shelter.

Linda Seemeyer, a member of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Year 2000 Preparedness, said the American Red Cross has shelters it can use around the state, yet she wasn't aware of a shelter set up just for a Y2K disaster.

"Things look very positive right now," she said. "We're not expecting any widespread problems. We think there may be little glitches along the way, but nothing that would threaten public safety."

Even in emergencies, many people choose not to go to shelters, instead getting help from family or friends, said Ed Gleason, state director of emergency management. Gleason also said he doesn't expect any problems come the start of the millennium.

"Typically, I think if something were to happen on New Year's Eve, they probably wouldn't run to a shelter; they would probably wait to see if the lights go back on," Gleason said.

If widespread panic does occur, however, it's likely that the college shelter will be a bit small, said Marj LaBrecque, who handles disaster services for the American Red Cross in Manitowoc and Calumet counties. Cities, counties and states can't take care of everybody, she said.

"We are making some plans and preparations, but behind our back, we're keeping our fingers crossed that we won't have to use any of that," LaBrecque said.

"What we're telling people is that they really need to prepare to take care of themselves. If this becomes full-blown, there isn't any shelter in any county that can take care of that."

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Dec. 4, 1999.

URL for the Princeton article RSEY_NEWS/j0181_AM_NJ--Princeton-Y2K


-- Homer Beanfang (, December 08, 1999.


-- d----- (, December 08, 1999.

"What we're telling people is that they really need to prepare to take care of themselves. If this becomes full-blown, there isn't any shelter in any county that can take care of that."

I love that this is the last line of the article. How many people read this all the way through, remained focused and then read that last line and "GOT IT". Not many I am sure.

-- hamster (, December 08, 1999.

Isn't Sysman employed by Princeton U, perhaps as part of the Y2K contingency team? If so, I'm guessing they are in better shape than many similarly-sized institutions (both corporate and educational). It's good to see that they are taking reasonable precautions.

-- (, December 08, 1999.

There are other schools/organizations that have purchased supplies/drawn up contingency plans to 'shelter' people in the event of a disaster, and many say they will donate the food and supplies to charity if there's no need. Why? I think that is one of the most short-sighted decisions. In just about every part of the country, disasters of some sort *do* happen, and I would have liked to think that these folks had actually learned something about prudent preparations for *any* emergency. How dumb is it for them to go to the trouble, time and expense of making these plans/preps, only to give them away if nothing catastrophic happens January 1st? If it grinds to a halt in March or April, but they've gotten rid of their suff, how dumb is that?

I would have hoped 'they' would have gotten it better than it appears they did.

JIT mentality strikes again.

JIT preps, huh?

-- Wilferd (, December 08, 1999.

Sorry RUOK,

I do work in Princeton, and I am working on Y2K, but not for P.U. <:)=

-- Sysman (, December 08, 1999.

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