The University of Houston plans to re-open Agnes Arnold Hall for the fall semester, which had been closed since March after two separate incidents of students who died by suicide last school year. The building will now have temporary fencing around its verandas, stairwells and walkways. The school said it plans to install more permanent, vertical cabling in the areas next year.
The university said a perimeter security fence will remain in place for the 2023-24 school year.
In a letter to staff and faculty at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dean Dan O'Connor said access to the lower level of the building will be restricted, but the building will be open for classes and other business during regular hours. Starting Monday, the building will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and accessible through both the front and back entrances without security check-ins. Outside of those hours, only people who have offices in the building will be able to enter and in order to get access during that time, a person must email officials to request access.
“I recognize that the reopening of Agnes Arnold Hall is not a simple matter, and I know that many of us faced difficulties during its closure. Your resilience and commitment have not gone unnoticed,” O’Connor said in an emailed statement to staff. “While current measures are fixed for the academic year, the University is planning extensive renovations to Agnes Arnold Hall beginning in late 2024. These improvements will focus on enhancing both safety and the overall functionality of the building, in alignment with the needs and expectations of our community.”
Group room reservations will be suspended in the fall, and classes will resume on the first, second and third level.
“In the meantime, we are here to support you as the building comes back online for the campus community. Your well-being remains a top concern,” O’Connor said in the email. “If there are specific adjustments or considerations that would make your return more comfortable, please reach out to your supervisor or to David McMullen.”
If you or someone in your life is feeling distressed or experiencing mental health challenges, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Free and confidential emotional support is available 24/7. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741.