The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Monroe Hall closes for roof reconstructions

5 min read
Large building with columns stands in the background of a large blue and white academic sign that reads, "Monroe Hall."

Classes and offices have been relocated following Monroe Hall being closed for the rest of the semester. | Norah Walsh, The Weekly Ringer


Staff Writer

On Feb. 1, Executive Director of University Communications Amy Jessee sent a campus-wide email announcing the closure of Monroe Hall for the rest of the semester for roof reconstruction. As a result, professors’ offices and classes had to be relocated to other academic buildings around campus.  

The closure follows a separate email from Jan. 30 in which Jessee notified campus that the building would be closed for the rest of the week for a building inspection and roof repairs. For the rest of the week, classes were either canceled or held on Zoom. 

Kristin Marsh, a sociology professor and the chair of the sociology and anthropology department, spoke about this transition period prior to the building closing for the rest of the semester. 

“I taught Wednesday and Friday on Zoom and then was able to go to Monroe to get some things out—what I needed for the rest of the semester and in planning for fall as well,” she said. 

For students like Bijan Alikhani, a junior political science and economics major, Monroe’s closure has stirred up emotions of disappointment. Alikhani, whose classes predominantly took place in Monroe Hall, highlighted the building’s centrality on campus as he shared his reactions to the move.  

“I was disappointed, as the vast majority of my classes have been in Monroe, and I’m familiar with it,” he said. “It’s also very close to the cafeteria.” 

As Alikahani noted, the proximity of Monroe Hall to essential facilities, such as the Top of the CRUC, highlights the interconnectedness of campus structures and the impact of such changes on students’ daily lives.

Apart from familiarity and centrality on campus, the issue of commuting to classes now located on opposite sides of campus has posed an issue to both faculty and students. 

“The difficulty has been for both students and faculty who are teaching or taking classes that are back-to-back,” said Marsh. 

During the week, classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are separated by a 10-minute break, and there are 15 minutes between classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Consequently, some students are now arriving late to class due to their new classroom locations. 

Junior sociology major Sydney Lytles had all of her classes in Monroe Hall prior to its close.  She now has back-to-back classes in Seacobeck and Combs Hall—two buildings on opposite ends of campus.

“I have my 9:30 a.m. in Seacobeck then have to book it to Combs for my 11 a.m. and risk running late since they’re on opposite sides of campus,” she said. “Having all my classes in Monroe decreased stress and made everything a lot easier so this is a big inconvenience for me.”

Marsh spoke about her attendance rates following the relocation of classes around campus, noting that it was too soon to be able to notice a trend. In the meantime, she also changed her office hours to meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays because the 30 minutes she had between two classes was not long enough to meet with students. She also noted that she will make appointments with students whose schedules preclude them from being able to attend. 

Jessee, in another campus-wide email sent on Feb. 4, emphasized the importance of the community’s understanding and flexibility during this critical period. She reiterated the necessity of the roof reconstruction project.

“We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we adjust the class schedule at this critical moment in the semester and keep this iconic building on our campus in good repair and structurally sound,” she wrote. 

Marsh said that she was being flexible with students arriving late to class and believes that other faculty members share her mindset in light of the circumstances. 

In response to the closure, the Registrar’s Office worked to move classes to alternative spaces across campus. The full list of relocated classes is available online, and students were advised to regularly check their email and Canvas for any additional updates from their professors.

Lytles expressed frustration with the short notice students and faculty were given prior to classes being moved. 

“The school should have seen this during break and should have taken care of that before we got back,” she said. “Or at least make the schedule changes over break so that we wouldn’t risk falling behind in classes like we are now.”

Marsh noted that work was conducted in December of 2023 to address a leak in the roof, which created a noisy environment for her and her fellow faculty members whose offices were on the fourth floor in Monroe—what was previously the attic. 

“Our chair had to do some advocating for us … she was working to get us other places that we could work while that work was happening, and that was before they shut the building down,” she said. “They didn’t know it was as bad as it was, they were just exploring what repairs needed to happen.”

Guanyi Leu, a visiting assistant professor of political science who taught in Monroe before its closure, stressed the importance of prioritizing safety in the decision to close the building, and she expressed her hopes for the future of the buildings on campus. 

“For safety purposes, it is the right thing to do,” said Leu. “Hopefully this kind of thing can be prevented, especially in the older buildings.”

Marsh said that faculty members were sent a spreadsheet where they could list what they needed from Monroe Hall, as well as if they required more boxes to move their belongings from their offices. Faculty were given several hours to move their belongings from Monroe the Friday, Saturday and Monday following the closure. Marsh also mentioned that the IT department would move her desktop computer, though they had not moved it yet. 

“It was abrupt, but I don’t know what they could have done differently,” said Marsh. 

Faculty offices in Monroe Hall have also been reassigned to other academic buildings, such as the Mansion on 1201 William Street, Woodard Hall, Combs Hall and the Jepson Science Center, with updates available online and in the University’s directory

Ky Huynh contributed to reporting for this article.