Water shutdown forces emergency closing

Student Center loses running water after main break under Massachusetts Avenue

Students returning from their Thanksgiving break on Sunday were greeted by orange, yellow, and white signs plastered on the doors of the student center announcing that the building was without water and functioning restrooms. Bathrooms were cordoned off with tape.

The Stratton Student Center (W20) was closed briefly on Sunday night as a result of a water main break on Massachusetts Avenue.

Water was restored shortly after midnight Sunday by the City of Cambridge. Food vendors made do with bottled water.

City workers said that a trickle of water began around 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, but they decided to wait until Sunday morning to avoid working through the night. Though they began early Sunday morning and had restored water to W20 that night, they were still at work on Monday morning repairing the damaged pipe and restoring electrical connections to street lighting.

Campus Activities Complex Director Philip J. Walsh made the decision to close the building on Sunday evening — signs were posted saying the building was closing at 10 p.m., and many students were asked to leave, though some students worked in the building through midnight that without being informed or shushed out by CAC staff.

Walsh did not respond to inquiries about why the building, which is typically open around the clock, needed to close at night after it had already been open during the day without any running water.

Around 10 p.m., groups of students gathered in front of LaVerde’s Market only to be turned away by an employee who told them that because the building was closing, LaVerde’s was closing also. At Anna’s Taqueria, an employee said their manager had brought in bottled water for the food, and employees were resorting to using hand sanitizer instead of soap and water.

Students working in the 5th floor Athena cluster and reading room were forced to leave the building as well. Andrew Chen ’11 was one of those students affected by the closing. “It’s a little annoying because I was planning on working here.” He added, “It would be more annoying if I had more work.”

John A. Hawkinson contributed reporting to this article.