Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

As many of you know, a student on the Pullman campus was seriously injured recently when he fell out of a window at the Community/Duncan Dunn Residence Hall. Our thoughts remain with our fellow student, his parents, family, and friends as he continues to receive medical care for his injuries.

Since this tragic accident, the University has been conducting a review of window safety in the 17 residence halls on the Pullman campus. A cross-departmental team including representatives from Housing, Dean of Students Office, Facilities Services, Risk Management, and the President’s Office was tasked with developing recommendations to help ensure the safety of residence hall windows. The team presented its preliminary findings to us this morning and we want to share them with you.

First, the group noted that all of WSU Pullman’s 17 residence halls have operable windows. These windows are designed to open so that occupants can escape or be rescued in an emergency. One question the group explored was the possibility of immediately installing fall prevention devices on all windows. While there are a number of devices available on the market to prevent accidental falls from windows, the vast majority of these products are intended to protect children ages five and under and would not be suitable for a university residence hall. The team also raised concerns about installing any device that could impede fire safety without completing additional research and thorough consideration.

The internal team also contacted other colleges and universities to compile best practices regarding residence hall window safety. While the majority of universities examined have operable windows, steps to address accidental falls varied widely among institutions.

After careful consideration, we have decided to institute the following plans beginning today:

WSU will immediately engage the services of a safety consultant to complete a comprehensive evaluation of fall risks campus-wide and make specific recommendations. A full and independent assessment of our facilities is in order given the many different types of windows and building configurations across campus, and to help ensure compliance with best practices in terms of fire and life safety.
In addition to hiring a consultant, the Division of Student Affairs will immediately begin an information campaign geared at increasing student awareness of risks of falls, urging students to look out for one another, and providing steps that can be taken to increase safety.

Ensuring the protection and well-being of the entire Cougar family—our students, faculty, staff, and visitors—remains an institutional priority. We will to work to make our campus as safe as possible. In the meantime, we offer our continued support to our injured student and his family.

Sincerely,

Kirk Schulz
President
Mary Jo Gonzales
Vice President for Student Affairs