The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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An Update on Venable Hall: Mold and an Immediate Closure

Photo+from+Historical+North+Adams
Photo from Historical North Adams

An email was sent out to students on November 15th, 2023, at 5:36 pm by Barbara Chaput, the Executive Director of Human Resources, announcing the Venable was being closed down and that numerous groups and classes were going to be relocated to other parts of campus. According to this email, “Venable Hall suffered water incursion during the height of the rain this summer,” which has led to water damage. “As work was done to remediate that [water] damage… it was found that there was additional damage on the roof, as well as the need for further asbestos abatement.” Another source stated that this was also partially due to the presence of mold that was found in the Venable 7 (the room primarily used for costume storage). Groups, such as Dance Co., were given till Friday to remove everything that was needed from Venable. This includes costumes that are often used in various performances.

According to Dr. Dehner, the MCLA Dean of Academic Affairs, two types of mold, penicillium and aspergillus, were found. Penicillium is often found on foodstuffs, leather, and fabrics and is vastly important in the production of penicillin. Aspergillus is a common type of mold that can thrive in indoor and outdoor environments. For the most part, Aspergillus is relatively unharmful, and likely not to cause more than coughing and a runny nose in some. For certain groups, such as those who are immunocompromised, it could cause infections in the lungs or sinuses. Safety Solution Consultants came in and found that the source of the mold was an old air conditioner, which Dr. Dehner says has since been removed. She also went on to explain that “remediating the one room [Venable 7] that had mold does not require closing an entire building, but doing the other work (removing the floor tiles, roof repairs) on top of this is much easier to do without people in the building– that is probably why they focused on the latter stuff and not the mold. The mold issue was the catalyst for us to do this now rather than wait, but again, we wouldn’t have closed the building if it was just the mold alone that we wanted to fix.”

The Beacon also reached out to, for comment on the closing of Venable, Joseph DaSilva, the Vice President of Administration & Finance, and Robert Fortini, the Interim Assistant Director of Facilities. We have not received responses or comments from these faculty members.

When asked when students can expect Venable to reopen, Dr. Dehner said, “It could be as short as a couple months, but it depends on the weather.” According to Dehner, Venable 7 is already on its way to being fixed up, but other problems (such as the damage to the roof) still need to be taken care of.

In the meantime, faculty offices that were previously on the third floor of Venable will be moved to either Bowman room 101B, Bowman room 101C, or 94 Porter Street, except for Adjunct Faculty offices which have been moved to Mark Hopkins room 208. The Empowerment Lounge, which is often used by groups such as Black Student Union, has been moved to Mark Hopkins room 110. As for upcoming productions, such as Tango Palace, they are all moved into the Church Street Center.

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Em Marlay-Wright, Staff Writer

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