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Bexley to close at end of semester for up to three years due to structural problems

Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo says helping affected students is his top priority; seniors permitted to stay through Commencement.
Bexley Hall
Bexley Hall
Image courtesy of MIT Housing

At a meeting of Bexley Hall residents this evening, Dean for Student Life Costantino Colombo and representatives of MIT Housing and the Department of Facilities discussed the results of engineering studies that have uncovered structural problems that will cause Bexley Hall to close at the end of this term for up to three years.

MIT’s Department of Facilities, in conjunction with consulting engineers, found significant water damage inside the building’s exterior walls. “Buildings are susceptible to this kind of damage,” said Michael Kearns, director of project management, renovations and renewal for the Department of Facilities. “But these new studies indicate that the deterioration inside Bexley’s exterior walls is more advanced than we anticipated.”

For all but Bexley’s graduating seniors, Bexley will be closed on May 25, which marks the end of spring housing. Graduating seniors will be permitted to stay in Bexley until June 8 (which is the day after Commencement).

Returning Bexley students are eligible to enter the Institute-wide housing lottery starting on Wednesday, May 8: MIT Housing will host a day-long event in W11 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; staff will guide students through the housing lottery process and help them complete their submissions. Students who cannot attend the event will be able to make their submissions through a website created for this purpose.

Bexley students will also have the option of investigating independent living groups (ILGs), which are part of the campus housing system but outside the lottery. If students decide to move off campus, MIT Housing will provide moving supplies and transportation for their belongings to a new residence in greater Boston. MIT will also provide free storage to returning Bexley students.

“No doubt this is difficult news for your community,” wrote Colombo in a follow-up email to Bexley residents after the meeting, “and I’m sympathetic to your feelings. Bexley’s independent spirit reflects an important aspect of MIT’s character. Right now my top priority is to help you finish this term successfully, and help each returning Bexley resident secure the best possible living option for next year.”

In his email, Colombo also described a plan to address long-term concerns of Bexley residents in a collaborative fashion. “Through the course of the next few weeks and throughout the summer,” he wrote, “we anticipate a great deal of work to be occurring as we assist current residents who are affected by the closing of Bexley, and as we develop a better understanding of how best to address the problems uncovered in the building. You gave us a lot of great ideas tonight, and we will continue the conversation with [Bexley Housemaster] Bob Randolph. In the interest of getting additional advice and guidance on our process and best means for engaging members of our community, the Office of the Chancellor will be forming an Advisory Group to support our actions over the near term and to advise me on longer-term issues. We envision that this group will convene as needed over the next few months, and that it will include the housemasters and some number of Bexley residents, representatives from the Undergraduate Association, and staff from the offices of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and the Dean for Student Life.”

“This is a challenging time for Bexley,” said Chancellor Eric Grimson. “I will be working closely with Dean Colombo to ensure that affected students are well cared for in the coming weeks and next year. I look forward to convening the advisory group, because it has been my experience at MIT that we find the best solutions when we work together.”

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