Injury in Brooks

Around 5:15 p.m. on Monday, a piece of the lattice window above Brooks dining hall broke off, falling onto a group of students waiting in line for dinner. The wooden bars came apart from the window glass and struck four students, two sophomores and two juniors, two of which required first aid.

THE CAMPUS/Dana D'amico

“I was standing and waiting in line when the first piece fell on top of my head,” said Elizabeth Yale, ’11. “I was stunned, and I looked up to see what had hit me. Then, the second part fell and it scraped my face up and knocked my glasses off.”

Immediately after the incident occurred, employees of Parkhurst, Security and Residence Life came to the aid of the students. The wood was photographed and was then promptly removed from the scene.

“Fortunately, no glass fell, it was just the lattice,” said Joe Hall, associate director of Residence Life, who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident. “I followed up with the students and checked in with the Parkhurst staff to make sure everyone was getting the help they needed.”

Students eating inside Brooks also bore witness to the event.

“I was eating dinner with my sorority for our weekly chapter dinner, and suddenly heard one of my sisters gasp,” said Alyssa Tom, ’12. “We all turned around, but no one around me knew what was going on until someone pointed out that the lattice window fell down.”

Despite the disturbance at the front of the dining hall, most of the patrons in Brooks weren’t aware of the incident.

“I just happened to look up at that moment and see it,” said Ian Colley, ’13.  “A couple of people in the front row turned around, and a couple of Brooks staff walked up to see if the people were all right, but for the most part it seemed to go unnoticed.”

According to Physical Plant, the lattice was installed several years ago and this type of incident has never happened previously.

“To our knowledge, the best possible reason why it fell is that the wood, which the lattice was made from, shrunk,” said Ken Hanna, director of physical plant, in an e-mail. “As the wood continued to shrink the lattice bowed and this caused the connectors to pull out from the wall.”

To prevent a repeat incident, Physical Plant will be applying double-sided tape to the glass in addition to the spring connectors that currently support the wood to keep the lattice attached even more strongly to the window.  The lattice window on the other side of Brooks dining hall is built differently than the window that fell, so it requires a different set of preventative procedures.

“Up until the incident I had been under the erroneous impression that the window [at the entrance to Brooks] was made up of smaller panes of glass like the one on the Park Avenue side of the room,” said Michael Zanie, general manager of Parkhurst Dining Services in an e-mail.  “It was a terrible way to find out otherwise.”

Among students, the incident has sparked talk about potential structural concerns with Brooks Hall.  However, according to Physical Plant, the structural integrity of Brooks is not in any danger.

“We do not have any other situations of this nature on campus,” Hanna said. “This was one of those areas where the lattice was a considerable distance above and so no one could notice it coming loose. The Physical Plant is in every facility each day and we try to the best of our ability to identify and correct unsafe items, areas, and practices.”

Hanna insists that the incident has not been taken lightly and more emphasis will be placed on dealing with potential hazards with the Physical Plant staff.

“This will be made a part of the Physical Plant safety training and more attention will be directed to hazard awareness,” Hanna said.