University Teaching Center

Wild Art | 1.23.15

Campus life Thursday was affected by a rainstorm that left large puddles and gusts of wind in its wake. Several photographers took the opportunity to creatively document the weather, resulting in rather interesting images.

A UT student exits the University Teaching Center Thursday afternoon with umbrella in hand. Umbrellas were common around campus with many students and faculty foreseeing heavy showers.

Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff


Undeclared freshman Kayli Bolds walks in front of the Tower on Thursday afternoon. Large puddles were obstacles in the paths of many students as they traveled to class.

Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff


UT students walk past the Flawn Academic Center on Thursday afternoon. 

Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Over 200 students evacuate the University Teaching Center after the activation of a fire alarm this morning. Officials said they smelled smoke on the third floor, but no threat was found.

More than 200 students and faculty lined the sidewalks outside the University Teaching Center on Wednesday morning, as UT police and Austin Fire Department officials searched the building for flames.

A Parking and Transportation Services officer directed traffic, while onlookers waited to hear what happened. Ultimately, the officers found nothing unusual — and that itself is not unusual. 

On campus and across the city, fire and police officers regularly respond to alarm calls that do not ultimately require emergency action. 

Last year, UTPD received 9,394 fire or intrusion calls for service, according to annual crime statistics. APD officers also respond to thousands of false alarm calls yearly, according to the APD Alarm Administration.

Austin City Council passed a resolution March 20 directing the city manager to review state law concerning penalties for false alarms, draft a relevant amendment to city code, examine the city’s internal practices regarding operation of alarms in city facilities and report back to the council with recommendations on how to reduce false alarms within 90 days.

“The City of Austin seeks to enhance safety for all of its citizens through the effective use of public safety resources and collaboration with residents and private businesses,” the resolution said.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Policy Director Michael McGill and City Manager Marc Ott were unavailable to comment on the resolution.

When campus police respond to alarm activations, officers check for signs of criminal activity and attempt to reset the alarm. If the individual who activated the alarm fails to contact police and report that the alarm was false, that constitutes a criminal offense of false report, according to UTPD policy.

The resolution cites the costs associated with false alarms and the high number of false alarm dispatches as reasons to reexamine the city’s alarm ordinance, which governs the amount of money a municipality can fine for false alarms.

“The city manager is directed to work with state-wide partners and the False Alarm Reduction Association to address the low cost recovery for municipal services of current fines and the high occurrence of false alarms,” the resolution said.

Madelyn Mattern, a management information systems senior, said she wished she had been better-informed about the circumstances regarding the UTC evacuation — even though the building was ultimately fine.

“We had just gotten started, so it didn’t really disrupt class that much,” Mattern said. “But I think everybody is a bit anxious because we weren’t told what was going on.”

Over 200 students evacuate the University Teaching Center after the activation of a fire alarm this morning. Officials said they smelt smoke on the third floor, but no threat was found.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Just after 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, more than 200 students and faculty were evacuated from the University Teaching Center, commonly known as the UTC, after a third-floor fire alarm was activated.

According to UTPD officers on the scene, fire marshals smelled smoke on the third floor but ultimately did not find anything.

“[It] smelled like newspaper was burning or something,” UTPD officer Nathan Hish said.

Management senior lecturer John Doggett said he was about to teach a class when the building was evacuated.  

“They said this was not a practice drill,” Doggett said. “I have about 40 unhappy students out here, because we had a great case to talk about, and now we’re not able to do that … but safety is more important.”

Madelyn Mattern, a management information systems senior, said she wishes she had been better informed about the cause of the evacuation.

“We had just gotten started, so it didn’t really disrupt class that much, but I think everybody is a bit anxious because we weren’t told what’s going on,” Mattern said.

UTPD officers gave the all-clear and allowed students back into the building at 11:33 a.m.

The UTC has multiple study spaces and about 30 general purpose classrooms.

Clarification: This story has been updated from its original version. Management senior lecturer John Doggett teaches classes for the McCombs School of Business in the UTC building.

At the beginning of every week, we provide a list of opinion-worthy events to expect during the coming week.

From 7-9 p.m. on Monday, marine toxicologist Riki Ott, who has written extensively about the Exxon Valdez oil spill and its aftermath, will be speaking at the University Teaching Center about the consequences of America’s dependence on fossil fuels. The talk will be held in UTC 3.104.

On Tuesday, April 16, Amnesty International will host a rally on the West Mall protesting American drone strikes in the war on terror. The event will feature numerous speakers and slam poets and will attempt to bring awareness to alleged human rights violations of drone strikes. The rally will take place from 6-8 p.m.

On Thursday, April 18, the 14th International Symposium on Online Journalism will kick off at Hole in the Wall from 6-9 p.m. The symposium, which is sold out, takes place April 19-20.

Electrical Distribution electricians Moe Taylor and Steve Bible prepare to restore electricity to the UTC building. A team of electricians from different zones across campus collaborated for two days to access the problem and repair the affected component.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

After a Wednesday thunderstorm left the University Teaching Center  University Teaching Center without power for two days, University Facilities Services has restored power to the building.

Electrical supervisor Steve Bible said the water poured over a bus duct during the rainstorm Wednesday morning, causing an explosion which resulted in the power outage. After making repairs, Facilities Services was able to restore power around 5 p.m. Thursday. Some classes were canceled Wednesday and Thursday due to lack of power. The outages affected 19 student organizations on Wednesday and 18 student organizations on Thursday who planned to meet in the building, according to a statement from Student Activities.

Bible said power fueling the building’s lights, elevators, escalators, Internet and telephone was cut short due to the outage. The temporary repairs made Thursday could last about three months before permanent replacements needed to be installed, Bible said.

“They’re going to put a shield on top of [the bus duct] to keep it from happening again,” Bible said. “It didn’t take long to figure out what caused [the outage], but it took two days to repair.”

Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said short-term repair work had been underway since Wednesday, but the final repair will involve installing new equipment, which facilities has ordered and will install as soon as it arrives.

“A permanent fix may involve excavating a section of the patio area,” Lentz said.

Bible said the same thing happened to the same section several years ago.

“The building’s not real watertight,” Bible said. “That hurts it.”

Biology and English honors sophomore Mallory Hood said her cellular biology class still met despite the lack of power.

“Material has to be covered,” said associate professor Clarence Chan, who taught Hood’s class in the UTC. “We didn’t want to lose a day of lecture.”

Hood said she agreed that in an upper division course like cellular biology, it is detrimental to miss a day of lecture. Because of the lack of power, Hood said her professor had to draw models on the chalkboard instead of using PowerPoint.

“We forget how much technology is now an integral part of the classroom,” Hood said.

But, Hood said the lack of technology actually allowed for more discussion time and it enhanced the learning experience.

“I’ve never been in a lecture before where there was so much interaction between the students and professor,” Hood said.

Printed on Friday, January 27 as: UTC Power outage leads to class, meeting cancellations

Unexpected morning event causes University response of camaradarie, confusion

Business freshman Trevor Egan looks out of Jester Center at the line of police in front of the PCL.

Photo Credit: Caleb Bryant Miller | Daily Texan Staff

Computer science freshman Ashley McCrory got off the Forty Acres shuttle bus near Dobie Center on what she thought would be a regular Tuesday morning.

McCrory was debating whether she should return to her room at Littlefield Dormitory or go to her calculus class in Garrison Hall. She decided to go to class. At around 8:10 a.m., McCrory said she saw a masked gunman fire about five rounds in the air. She hid behind a pillar of a nearby building as she saw the man run into the Perry-Castañeda Library.

When the shooter was out of sight, McCrory approached a Dobie maintenance worker to make sure what she saw actually happened. McCrory said the armed man was wearing all black — a jacket that looked like a trench coat, and what appeared to be a ski mask. She saw him holding a long gun, which Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo later said was an AK-47.

“At first, I thought, ‘Is this really happening?’” McCrory said. “I was wondering if this was a joke — a really bad joke. You don’t expect a shooting to happen when you go out for your day.”

McCrory went to Benedict Hall, where students streamed news on their laptops to learn more about the incident.

“I was in shock until then,” McCrory said. “As more policemen came, more realizations came to me that this actually happened.”

Pre-public relations freshman Andrew McWaters and pre-journalism freshman Skylar Isdale said they heard three to four gunshots coming from behind them as they walked along 21st Street to their class at the University Teaching Center.

“We turned and we looked and saw birds flying out everywhere,” McWaters said. “We didn’t know what it was.”

Isdale said a guard led them into the lobby of the UTC. She and McWaters saw the shooter run by as they stood near the windows.

“His left arm was tucked under his jacket,” Isdale said. “He smiled at us and waved with his right hand. It was really creepy.”

On Tuesday morning, a UT student fired several rounds from an AK-47 while on campus. He later died by suicide in a campus library when police tried to apprehend him.

More police arrived on scene shortly afterward and advised students to leave the PCL and enter the nearest building because of an active shooter in the library.

“There was all of this commotion in the PCL,” said government sophomore Michael Azari, who works in the lobby of the PCL. “I thought someone had gotten into a fight. One minute later, all of these cops stormed the building and told everyone to get out.”

He said the police, armed with automatic rifles and dressed in bulletproof vests, headed toward the elevators while a few manned the doorways.

“They were surrounding the PCL and moving in as we were moving out,” he said. “Then they announced over the intercom the severity of the situation. People [were] pretty shaken up,” Azari said.

During the lockdown, Azari saw a group of students in a prayer circle at Benedict Hall led by history sophomore Rachel Tanisha Bush.

“I’ve tried to call and talk to everyone I know to make sure they are OK,” Bush said. “It just broke our hearts for this campus. There have been a lot of emotions.”

Following the incident, University officials urged students via text message and e-mail to remain indoors. The lockdown lasted nearly four hours.

Business senior lecturer Linda Gerber, who teaches an international trade class in the UTC, originally scheduled an exam Tuesday morning and went back to her office to retrieve papers.

“When I got upstairs, I saw police with assault rifles,” she said. “I was taken aback.”

The SWAT team told professors to lock their doors, and Gerber told all students to move toward the back of the room, away from windows.

“I was watching students to see how they were reacting,” Gerber said. “There were some who were unsettled by the whole thing. I think any diversion you can have is better in these situations, so we ended up watching people’s favorite YouTube videos.”

Gerber said she did not feel like she was in imminent danger, but was rattled.

“I felt very confident that it was under control,” she said. “I think police presence and direction was an important part of that. We are very fortunate that the young man did not want to harm other people, and we did very well under the circumstances.”

— Additional reporting by Daniel Sanchez