The auditorium at UMASS Dartmouth has been broken almost the entire year. How does an auditorium break, one asks? Well, I'll tell you: the lighting is, to put it mildly, fucked up. The "House Lights" are fried and pretty much can't be fixed (warning: link temporary, I'll try to remember to fix it when it goes bad). From the University newspaper, the Torch:
The UMass Dartmouth Main Auditorium is host to many events: Theatre Company and 20 Cent Fiction both put on all their theatrical productions, CAB puts on both Mr. and Mrs. UMD and a host of other organizations hold a variety of events throughout the year — it was even the location for a gubernatorial forum before this year’s election. Every single one of these events for the past couple of decades has run under the glow of an inadequate lighting system.
According to an anonymous source from within the UMD auditorium staff, the lighting system
that is currently utilized has been in use since the auditorium’s birth over forty years ago. “The system was designed to last for twenty years, and it’s been in use for forty,” the source claims. “It finally ended up dying in October.”
The system dying means that the lights themselves have no power, and the dimmers for the lights are broken.
In order to compensate for this outdated setup, portable systems have been purchased to power the auditorium. These portable SAT(short for satellite) packs “were originally purchased as a backup” and since have become the primary source of power.
Well, I can be a second source on that. It's broken. Everyone in CAB, 20 Cent and the Theatre Company has known that for a year. The Theatre Company first realized it when they staged Anne Frank in the fall - and had to be content to do the production with the house lights on. Imagine going to a movie where they didn't dim the lights? No one was happy, including the audience.
They got the backups working for Moby Dick, but those aren't a permanent solution. They're already being fried. It's like driving with a spare tire: they don't last very long. They were designed to work at room temperature, but it reaches 120 degrees where they're situated. Not to mention, since they weren't designed for long use, they're not exactly safe - the picture in the Torch is of the fuse actually melting the cords to the backup lights.
The good news is that if the building burned down, we'd get a new one... even if in a few years. Sadly, at the rate things are going, it's not all that unlikely.
The source expressed fear of this situation saying “before this [the cords melting] happened, a circuit breaker should have tripped...but it didn’t.” The only reason the problem was noticed is because “a SAT pack wasn’t working and we didn’t know why.” It’s unknown if the cord melted due to an electrical fire, or if it was just the heat of the energy flowing through it.The fix? $300,000 and 2-3 months, months were all events would have to be cancelled. Imagine if the school had to tell the gubernatorial candidates during the debate last year, "sorry guys, our lights are broken, we can't do this?" Sadly, that was almost the case. Oh, and speaking of repair costs, did I mention the University is damn near falling apart and each academic building should be replaced within 10-15 years? Just remember, the cost of building a university is billions, but the return on the investment is priceless.