Unreliable Elevators Cause Concern


Students need to allocate extra time to get to and from class due to the “modernization” of elevators in McMahon Hall. Only three out of the five elevators are functioning. (Photo Illustration by Kyle Morrison)

Published: April 20, 2011

The elevators in McMahon Hall have been under modernization since the beginning of the semester. Since then, students have been subject to random dispatcher malfunctions, which means that the elevators stop on every floor. There have also been incidents reported where students have been stuck inside an elevator, unable to open the doors to exit.

Kelli Youngman, FCLC ’11, said she got stuck in an elevator Car 1 on April 11 on her way to her 10 a.m. ballet class at Ailey.

“It stopped and it bounced a little. I wasn’t sure if it was moving or not and the number thing was flashing. It kept changing numbers. It was showing weird things on top. I pressed the call button and [the security guard] answered. I was in there for like 20 minutes.

“They said they were sending a guy up to open the door and let me out. [The security guard] was telling me what was going on and checking in. Then the guy opened the door. It wasn’t level with the floor so I had to step down.”

Maria Vasaturo, FCLC ’11, lives on the 17th floor and also has been stuck in an elevator on her way to her apartment.

“I got in an elevator and it stopped between two floors. It just stopped. I pressed the alarm button and spoke to the security guard. He said he would call the elevator people.”

After waiting 15 minutes, Vasaturo said she saw another security guard through the half-open door. “He started to try to open the door with his arms, but it didn’t work. This was going on for like 10 minutes.”

Diana Kokoszka, FCLC ’12, said she had a similar incident, but did not report it to security.

“The elevator stopped at the right floors but it wouldn’t open, and the doors would just part slightly and close again. At one point it stopped entirely. [My friend] had to pry the doors open for us to get out.”

Kokoszka said she did not report the incident because, “it’s become something of a routine to be inconvenienced by a malfunctioning elevator in McMahon.”

Students also have complained about the long wait to even get inside an elevator to return to their dorms. Cars 4 and 5 are still undergoing “modernization,” according to Leslie Timoney, director of Facilities, and will be completed by July.

However, until then, students will have to only use Cars 1, 2 and 3, which has made waiting for an elevator even longer.

“Just this weekend there was a big mob of people waiting [in the Lowenstein lobby.” Youngman said. “For a long time all the elevators were on the upper floors. One time the button on my floor wasn’t even lighting up when I pressed it, so I just took the stairs down because no elevators were coming.”

Anthony Becker, FCLC ’14,  lives on the fourth floor of McMahon and said he doesn’t depend on the elevators to get to and from class. “If I’m carrying food or books, I’ll wait for an elevator, but otherwise, I’ll just walk. I’ll press the button and wait to see if it will come, but if it doesn’t come, then I’ll just walk. I can’t imagine what people on the upper floors feel like.”

Because of the fewer number of available elevators, students have had to alter their schedules to get to class on time.

“I have to factor in elevator time to go to class, and then it’s full so you have to squeeze in. Sometimes it stops at random floors or every floor,” Vasaturo said.

“If I have an early class I just take the stairs down from the 15th floor because I know I’ll get there faster,” Kokoszka said.

Timoney offered advice to students who do not want to wait for an elevator. “Residents might consider avoiding the rush by leaving earlier for class and running an errand afterward,” she said.

Students said they are disappointed with the rate at which Facilities is handling the modernization of the elevators.

“It seems crazy to me that Facilities has been taking so long to work on the two elevators that are out of service, especially since the ones that have already been ‘modernized’ are absolute death traps.” Kokoszka said.

“It’s really annoying,” Becker said. “There’s always work going on, but it seems like nothing is changing. Almost half of the elevators don’t work, I think that’s a problem.”

In response to these student complaints, Timoney said, “Since the new processors and communications boards have been installed, we haven’t had dispatcher malfunctions. The elevators answer the call buttons. Since last Wednesday, they have only stopped on floors where the lobby call button was pushed.”

Timoney also said that when a resident encounters a malfunction on the ride down, they should report it to the dorm desk guard or place a work order online.

After recent dispatcher malfunctions, Timoney said she spoke with the manufacturing representative about repairing the elevators.

“The manufacturer replaced the processors on each of the new cars and each of the new cars received a new communications board. Since Wednesday [April 13], we’ve experienced one shutdown of Car 3 due to the elevator car doors being held open too long. The car was reset immediately.”

However, not all students notice the updates. “I couldn’t tell you the difference between an old elevator and a modernized one,” Becker said.