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

BREAKING: Discovery of ‘significant water damage’ forces shutdown of White Hall; first-year students reassigned housing

Elizabeth Scholl
The gated entrance to White Hall stands at 21 Forsyth St. The residence hall has been shut down indefinitely after structural engineers found water damage to the building’s interior and exterior brick.

After a structural assessment of White Hall found significant internal and external damage, university officials announced Monday the century-old residence hall will be shut down indefinitely and the building’s intended residents will be reassigned. 

The five-story White Hall, built in 1899, houses hundreds of first-year students in singles, doubles, triples and quads each academic year. The announcement came a week before first-year students were slated to move into the residence building. Incoming White Hall residents were notified of the closure via email on Monday. 

“As part of a planned building improvement project involving the exterior of White Hall, we discovered significant water damage impacting the structure of the interior and exterior brick walls of the building,” the email read. “Based on their initial assessment of the building’s condition, our structural engineering experts have concluded that White Hall should not be occupied until further analysis is done along with a plan for remediation.”

In an email to The News, a spokesperson for Northeastern confirmed incoming first-year students who were expected to live in White Hall will be reassigned to other campus locations. Resident Assistants assigned to White Hall were moved to other residence halls. According to the Boston Globe, the closure affects about 400 freshmen.

“Structural engineering experts are currently evaluating the extent of the problem and we expect to have their report and recommendations within the next couple of weeks,” the spokesperson wrote. “At that point, we will be able to determine the necessary repair work and the timeline to complete it. In the meantime, the building remains temporarily unoccupied.”

Since May, the university has applied for several construction permits from the city of Boston to renovate White Hall. The permits total over $600,000 and include asbestos removal on all five of the building’s floors, which makes up roughly $586,000 of the permits’ declared valuation total. The renovations also include new fire alarms, improved electrical and plumbing systems and the installation of smoke detectors. 

The university did not provide information on multiple details regarding the closure of White Hall in response to questions from The News, including whether there are concerns of similar damage to other buildings on campus, if the building has ever been renovated or how frequently White Hall is inspected.

A sign on the door of White Hall prohibits visitors without university-approved access. White Hall will be shut down indefinitely and all students moved to other residence halls. (Elizabeth Scholl)

Sara McLain, an incoming first-year psychology major, was scheduled to move into White Hall Sept. 2, but found out Monday her new home for her first year at Northeastern would be the Midtown Hotel. 

“It was just kind of shocking because it’s so late in the summer,” McLain said. “It was just a surprise to me and I was kind of confused about how the roommate situation would be working.”

The email McLain and other first-years received assigning them to new residence halls assured students that “all attempts were made to keep roommate groups together,” but acknowledged “in some cases, your roommate information has changed.”

“We recognize that you may have begun communications with your White Hall roommate(s) and may experience disappointment if a change has happened,” the email read. “We ask for your patience with your new roommate(s), as they are experiencing the same situation.”

In addition to roommate confusion, the move to Midtown put a hitch in some of McLain’s move-in preparations, like the switch from a twin XL to a full-sized bed.

“I didn’t really have any attachment to [White Hall], but it is a little frustrating just because some of the stuff that I bought for my dorm room wouldn’t really work out with a new dorm room,” she said.

But Raphael Sogueco, an incoming first-year studying computer science, called the closure “a blessing in disguise.” Sogueco, originally assigned to a White Hall dorm room, was reassigned to East Village.

“I would consider myself lucky to get [assigned to] East Village,” Sogueco said. “A lot of people are complaining about this assignment, but I have got to give the residential life team props for having to move everybody, having to move their mailing addresses, and also the MicroFridges to new areas.”

Amid an ongoing housing crisis, the shutdown further strains the university’s already-limited housing options. In April, the university filed to become a permanent tenant at the Sheraton Boston Hotel and turn 428 hotel rooms into dorms. In fall 2021, the school began renting two residence halls from the neighboring Wentworth Institute of Technology.  

Students living in other residence halls on Northeastern’s Boston campus have reported damage in their dorms, including Edwards and Rogers Hall — the two rented Wentworth properties — as well as a 2017 ceiling collapse in Willis Hall

White Hall, located on the corner of Forsyth Street and Huntington Avenue, has no previous property violations, according to the City of Boston’s public building and property violation database. The building is still listed on the university’s housing website as a first-year, traditional-style accommodation. Qdoba, the restaurant on the first floor of White Hall, is temporarily closed, according to its website.

Eli Curwin contributed to this report.

About the Contributors
Sonel Cutler, Campus Editor
Sonel Cutler is a third-year journalism and political science combined major and campus editor of The News. She has previously served as deputy campus editor and is excited to continue bringing thoughtful and thorough coverage of campus life to Northeastern students. Sonel was most recently on co-op with the Boston Globe's Metro desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @cutler_sonel.
Elizabeth Scholl, Deputy Photo Editor
Elizabeth Scholl is a second-year pharmaceutical sciences major with a minor in business administration. She currently serves as one of the deputy photo editors for The News. Her favorite events to photograph include sports, concerts and anything The News needs last minute.
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