UCF closes all campuses ahead of Hurricane Dorian, worrying students

Game Design majors Sebastian Saabedera, 21, Julianne Truong, 20 and Rebecca Navas, 20, leave UCF's Downtown campus wary of what the closures will mean for their electronics-based work. UCF has announced all campuses will be closed until Tuesday or further notice. 

It was ramping up to be an exciting week for students taking classes at the UCF's new downtown campus, but timing is everything.

Friday, after hundreds of business, communications and technology majors walked through those glistening double doors for the first time, they were asked to leave just as quickly. In preparation for what a National Hurricane Center report said is now a Category 4 Hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph, UCF has closed.

The alert went out on Thursday, notifying students and staff that every campus would close Friday at 5pm. With one day to prepare, the afternoon notice stirred up the hive.

Some felt flashbacks to 2017's Atlantic hurricane season that grounded university classes to a halt. Primarily, students are worried about falling behind on their work because of power outages in the coming week. 

Seth Cordaro, 21, is a junior at Valencia who's taking culinary classes at the downtown campus. He remembers what Irma did to his workflow two years ago. 

"I fell behind too. We didn't have power, but we still had assignments that were due," Cordaro said. "I think I missed like one or two assignments that week, but it was definitely a little hard to manage. You also have one less week of vacation."

Jared Brennan, junior digital media and web design major, 21, was having lunch with Cordaro during the downtown campus' slow evacuation. 

"We both work full time, so balancing the work life and catching up on assignments we could've missed due to no internet and power and is gonna be really hard to juggle," Brennan said. "Both of us really hope that our teachers are accommodating and give us plenty of time to catch up on everything." 

For some students however, simply catching up on late homework isn't the issue. UCF's downtown campus hosts a variety of tech-focused classes that rely on electricity. Plenty of students believe that category 4 hurricane will get in the way of that. 

Sebastian Saabedera, 21, Rebecca Navas, 20, and Julianne Truong, 20, are all juniors studying game design at UCF's downtown campus.

"It sucks," Saabedera said. "It's ridiculous. We're a technology reliant major." 

"I think it's a terrible point for classes to be cancelled," Navas said. "Then, you can't even get started. It kinda brings you down because we're at that point where it's going to start becoming a lot more serious when it comes to what we want with our careers." 

Saabedera, Navas and Truong all have the same schedule; Truong added that all of their classes are heavily based on internet access, a scarce commodity for many after a storm. Dorian's anticipated effect on Orlando's power grid makes Truong particularly worried about her work. 

"I am worried about falling behind. Two years ago with Irma, I got far behind because of that. That was a week of two out of class, but I had classes every day," she said. 

Truong said she's living near the downtown campus, in a nearby apartment complex. Since her home is two hours away, it's where she's chosen to stay Hurricane Dorian. 

"The apartment complex seems fine. There's a lot of trees around it, I'm more worried about my car," she said.

As for the downtown campus, Jared Brennan wonders how well the new buildings will perform during their inaugural hurricane. 

"I want to know how it affects this campus because, if you look around, obviously nothing is really 100% complete," Brennan said. "I want to see, weeks down the line, where the downtown campus is."

Not everyone was worried, however. 

Hezekiah Olopade is teaching Modeling Real-Time Systems II, a heavily tech-reliant class, during his first semester at the downtown campus. As a Florida native and UCF graduate, he said that hurricanes are a regular thing.

"UCF's just doing what they normally do," Olopade said. "They take the precautions to make sure everyone's safe. They'll shut down the schools until the storm passes over. No need to worry."

His coworker, Antony Ballinas, uses the downtown campus as office space for his 2D/3D modeling job with PBS Kids. Ballinas agreed with Olopade. 

"It's a normal thing. We can work remotely. As long as we have power, it's fine. Also, we do have the week off, technically it's our vacation. It won't affect us at all, really," Ballinas said. 

At the time of this report, UCF will keep all campuses closed until at least Tuesday, September 3. 

You can find regular updates on Hurricane Dorian at the National Hurricane Center's website.

***This story has ben updated to reflect that Olopade is a UCF teacher, not a student. 


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