At Washington Tower, elevator safety is in doubt

Elevator service is far from trustworthy

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Kacey Connolly, Collegian Contributor

Two weeks ago, I took the elevator in Washington Hall up to the 16th floor. Seconds after getting on, I was faced with my greatest fear: The elevator stopped working.

Word had been spreading through the dorm that the elevator system was faulty. Stories of students getting stuck had been spreading since move-in day. It wasn’t until I was standing in an elevator, panicked because the doors were malfunctioning, that I realized the severity of the situation.

Just a few weeks prior to my experience, one of the three Washington elevators stopped at the third floor and never came down. It has yet to move, leaving only two to transport students to 22 floors. About a week after, a group of students encountered a similar experience to mine on a Friday night. Packed into one of the two elevators that were running, a cluster of 19- and 20-year-olds were on their way down to the lobby when their lift suddenly stopped in between floors. The doors remained shut and moments after, the elevator dropped.

“It was terrifying,” sophomore communication major Sheila Lynch said. “It must have dropped three or four floors by the time the doors finally opened.”

Another sophomore in the same elevator as Lynch recounted her experience as well. “Everyone was freaking out,” Marissa Parrella, a student in the school of management, stated. “We were all pressing the fire department call button but no one was answering. I must have pressed the button trying to open the doors a hundred times before it fell.”

Students living in Washington aren’t the only ones experiencing the terrors of the UMass elevator system either. Freshman journalism major Ana Pietrewicz said it was only her third day on campus when she was in a library elevator going up to the ninth floor when it suddenly halted. She claims the inside door opened, but the outside doors remained shut.

“I was so nervous,” Pietrewicz recalled. “I looked at a librarian who was with us all and asked her what to do, she told me to just wait and that this stuff happens all the time.”

A few days ago, the residential assistants in Washington sent out an email informing us that there will be a day in the near future where none of the three Washington Tower elevators will be operational. Although the reason for this is to fix the elevators, I can’t help but question why such drastic repairs are necessary in the first place, and why it took a month for this small piece of information students have received.

Why were the elevators not repaired or renovated before hundreds of students moved into the dorm? None of the students in Washington knew because nobody notified us. There were no emails or warnings posted giving insight on the issue, not even after problems arose. I reached out the resident director and assistant resident director for further information, but received no response.

If by some chance the dorm faculty did not see or realize a problem with the elevator system beforehand, something should have been done immediately after the first elevator broke down in the tower. Although not running the elevator at all prevents students from getting stuck, it also takes away a level of accessibility sorely needed by students.

With 22 floors of students in the hands of the University, safety should be a number one priority in Washington. Students shouldn’t have to wonder every time they step into an elevator if they’re going to make it to the ground without any problems. None of us should be questioning whether our dormitory’s elevator will fall to the ground.

As a student attending this university, I don’t pay thousands of dollars to be here for broken elevators that don’t get fixed for nearly a month, and I certainly don’t enjoy not receiving any information on the matter either.

Kacey Connolly is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]