Florida A&M administrators shut down Jones Hall on Tuesday afternoon following the discovery of significant water damage to the building.
Several lab classes and at least three lecture classes have been suspended pending repairs to the facilities.
Jones Hall houses more than one dozen laboratories used for the university’s physics, chemistry and biology programs. It also includes a large lecture hall on the first floor.
Maurice Edington, dean of the College of Science and Technology, explained that days of low temperatures led to the building’s utilities pipes leaking on several floors. Apparently, he said, water stopped flowing for a time, and then the pipes froze and subsequently cracked.
Students had taken to social media to vent their frustrations about the building suddenly being closed. At least one student said in an online post that the floor had “caved in.”
Edington said from his observations, the damage was not catastrophic.
“I did not see any floor damage, just some water damage,” Edington said.
Administrators closed the building as a precaution. Signs were posted throughout the building, directing students and others to contact the dean’s office with inquiries.
Many students approached Jones Hall on Wednesday expecting class, read the notice and turned away. Faculty has been temporarily relocated to University Commons to assist students with registration and other tasks.
For freshman Puja Patel, Jones Hall being closed is a minor inconvenience.
“I don’t mind it because it’s only the first few days of class,” said Patel, a pre-pharmacy student from Panama City, Fla. “It’s better than if it happened later in the semester.”
Patel headed to her 11 a.m. class today only to find the building locked. She said not having class today would give her time to prepare for other classes.
Tommie Cooper, a senior pre-med student from Fort Lauderdale, shared Patel’s sentiments. He said he showed up in response to his professor’s request that students be counted for attendance and wondered where he would meet his teacher and fellow students.
“I feel like it’s probably gonna be taken care of quickly,” Cooper said. “I don’t really see it as that big of a deal.”
It’s the first week back for FAMU students after winter break. Throughout the U.S., intense weather has paralyzed air and ground traffic, closed schools and shut down power, affecting millions of Americans’ lives.
Forecasters predict warmer weather by the weekend. Acknowledging that the spring schedule would be slightly disrupted, the dean said faculty would have to adjust teaching plans to account for the lost time.
“Typically, students don’t do experiments in the first week of class, and only a few lectures have been affected,” Edington said.
He directed The Famuan to Kendall Jones, interim associate vice president for Construction and Facilities Management, for further comment. Jones said he was unable to respond to questions by phone because he was in a meeting. Emailed questions have not been answered by press time.