September 29, 2016

Dear Members of the Trinity College Community,

The September 10th balcony collapse accident, in which 32 students suffered physical injuries, is still very much in our thoughts. It was unquestionably a traumatic event for these students and for all of us, as ours is a deeply caring community.

Thankfully, all of the injured students are back on campus and attending classes. Bones and wounds are healing, but it takes longer to process the emotional aspects of such an incident.  Let me express special gratitude to the members of our Counseling Center who have helped so many over the past 2½ weeks.  Also, I wish to share my heartfelt appreciation for the dedication of our administrative teams, many of whom have been working to care for students in need while simultaneously working to understand what occurred and why. Additionally, so many faculty and staff members, as well as fellow students, have been there to support and accommodate the students most directly affected.

I am writing today to offer some insights into why the collapse occurred and to promise you that we are doing our utmost to ensure that such an accident does not happen again. Soon after the accident, Trinity engaged the Cirrus Structural Engineering firm to conduct an independent review of the collapse of the rear decks at 1713-1715 Broad Street. The essence of Cirrus’s findings is that the decks were structurally deficient, not having been built properly. The accident was caused because “best practices” in the installation of the decks were not followed. Here is a link​ to our College Updates page where Cirrus’s report is being posted today.

Trinity purchased the building in 2011, and, for reasons that are unclear to me, the building was not inspected at that time. City of Hartford records do not reflect when the building was inspected prior to 2011. Since the accident, all of Trinity’s off-campus properties have been or are being inspected to ensure they are safe, whether their primary use is for residential housing, offices, and/or academic spaces. Additionally, the College has adopted policies and procedures to ensure regular inspections of these buildings.

This morning, I reached out again to the students affected and to their families to express my sincere apologies for this accident and to share the findings from Cirrus’s independent review of the accident. The accident occurred under our watch, and for that I am truly sorry. The Trinity community has my commitment that the College is implementing appropriate policies and procedures designed to prevent something like this from happening again.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
Professor of Neuroscience