By ALICEN HACKNEY
“There have been 24 work requests concerning campus elevators since August 1, 2018,” reported UMW’s Facilities Director John Wiltenmuth. This means that at this point in the semester there has been the equivalent of a work order every two days for elevators on campus. On campus, six residence halls have elevators along with those in the Eagle Landing Apartments, and students have reported getting stuck in some of these on multiple occasions.
“My roommate and I were taking the elevator up to our room on the fifth floor [of Mason Hall],” said junior environmental science major Shoshana Gordon. “When the elevator reached the top floor, it beeped to signal it stopped, but the doors didn’t open. We stood there for a solid minute thinking it would open eventually on its own, but it didn’t, so we had to press the ‘open doors’ button for it to actually work,” Gordon said.
Later that same day, while Gordon was speaking with her suitemates, she found out that they had also been stuck in that same elevator on different occasions.
“I was only stuck for a couple of seconds, but [my roommate] was stuck for about 10 minutes,” said junior psychology major Aidan McClanahan, Gordon’s then suitemate.
Elevator malfunctions often involve troubleshooting issues, like buttons not working the right way or the elevator not stopping on certain floors for no apparent reason.
“I was stuck for about fifteen minutes. The elevator kept moving up and down, but would not stop or open the doors. Eventually, it took me to the basement floor and let me out after I kept mashing the emergency buttons,” said junior psychology major Hailey Beavers about an incident an elevator in Monroe Hall.
Students have also reported frequent shutdowns of the elevators in Trinkle Hall and the Eagle Landing parking garages. Over the last three weeks, the Eagle Landing parking garage elevator has had one 5-day long shut down and one 6-day long shut down. In between these two major incidents, students were trapped in the elevator, which led to another shorter closure. The Eagle Landing parking garage is five stories tall, and students cannot park on the first two floors.
“The elevator in Trinkle hasn’t given me problems exactly, but it is very shaky when it stops. I will give it this, though: the ‘open’ and ‘close doors’ buttons actually work immediately after pressing them, which definitely isn’t the case for pretty much any other elevator,” said Gordon.
The elevator in Jefferson Hall has also experienced technical issues. “On the elevator in Jefferson, the second floor button rarely works. [It] doesn’t want to stop on second floor,” said junior geology major Emily Kreiger, who is an RA for the hall. “I have to press [the button] at least five or six times to get it to stop on the second floor. [When] you hit the second floor button sometimes it doesn’t get it, and the elevator goes to another floor. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” she said.
While the Jefferson elevator has yet to be fixed, residents have not made complaints to Kreiger about this issue so it has taken a back seat to other issues this semester.
“Tell the RA about it so it can be seen if it is a common issue. The RA can tell an [Area Coordinator], and the AC can talk to maintenance,” Kreiger said.
“RAs are the best way for common utilities and space to be fixed. For elevator issues, contacting an RA in the building even if it is not yours….is the best way to get [it] fixed.” said Kreiger.
While students can contact other officials to get an elevator fixed, their RA or AC can act quickly to ask for maintenance on an elevator that is in their area of control.
However, if a student is trapped in an elevator, they can call the campus’ non-emergency number (540-654-1025), and a campus police officer and the fire department can be sent their way. This is important in situations where there is a physical break of the elevator equipment like the door splits in half or if the elevator is stuck between floors.