The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Willis Hall apartment ceiling collapses



By Glenn Billman, deputy campus editor

A water leak in Willis Hall, a suite-style residence hall, led to a partial collapse of one unit’s bedroom ceiling Thursday morning.

“The residents of that apartment were not displaced and declined an offer for alternate temporary or permanent housing,” Northeastern spokesperson Matthew McDonald said in an e-mail to The News.

Brett Bragaw, a sophomore bioengineering major and one of 4 residents of the damaged room, woke up suitemate Alex Tiarks to show him the two-foot by four-foot water bubble that had developed on his ceiling. After moving Bragaw’s belongings out of harm’s way, they went back to bed.

“Immediately, we were like, ‘Okay, this is going to explode,’” said Tiarks, a sophomore finance major. “We didn’t realize that we could go talk to Housing, because they’re actually up at 2 a.m., and you can call the police. So we kind of anticipated it would burst, but we knew there was kind of nothing we could do about it.”

Around 6 a.m. the bubble burst. Three hours later, another small piece of the ceiling fell and hit Bragaw’s leg, but did not injure him. The suitemates then went to residence director Blake Minchoff, who declined to comment, for help.

Sections of the ceiling falls onto furniture in the room. / Photo courtesy Alex Tiarks

“[Minchoff] was really quick to immediately get people to look at it,” Tiarks said. “And then with Housing, it took 20 minutes for someone to be in the room looking at it, and it probably took three hours until they were trying to fix it […] And in the middle of move-in, it’s pretty hard to do that. So I do appreciate that.”

According to McDonald, the damage was caused by a leak in the apartment above the affected unit.

The apartment tenants moved in early to do for pre-season conditioning for Northeastern’s men’s rugby team. The early move-in fee was waived after the incident, and according to Tiarks, the repair and cleaning process took three days.

“It actually looks kind of better than it did before, because we just got a new ceiling. It was kind of funny more than it was scary,” Tiarks said.

This is not the first time a residence hall has been disrupted by water damage; on Oct. 5, 2016, Kennedy Hall was briefly evacuated due to flooding.

“I do think the school could do a better job of maintaining its facilities,” Tiarks said. “That probably goes for more than just the housing, as far as where you’re living, it also goes to academic buildings. Because there are a lot of academic buildings on campus that do need to be refurbished. Overall I would say that the school’s done a pretty good job of solving problems.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not introduce Northeastern spokesperson Matthew McDonald the first time he was mentioned.

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