NewsAfter last semester’s updates, are the Thomas elevator woes no more?

The new machinery may have broken down over move-in weekend, but Facilities Services believes the worst is over
Jolie FrancisAugust 31, 201861 min
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The updated elevators in Bruce Thomas Hall experienced shutdowns all throughout student move-in this year, resulting in students and parents having to use the stairs to move into their rooms.

Thomas is an eight-floor sophomore residence hall on the far west side of campus. At the end of last spring, the two elevators in Thomas had been completely updated and replaced with all new machinery after operating inconsistently throughout the year.

“Both units were completely reworked, it’s all new,” said Jim Baker, the director of facility services. “Everything in the machine room: the drive units, the controllers, the interior of the cabs, the cables and weights and the brake unit. The metal frame of the cab, the part we ride in, we reused that but obviously we finished the inside. But everything upstairs is brand new.”

While the elevators worked for students who moved in early to Thomas, the Saturday of move-in weekend brought about the shutdown problems.

“At move-in they get constant use over and over. There’s always someone with an armload of furniture trying to go somewhere. It was probably the first real test that those elevators have had, the real first heavy usage,” Baker said.

Baker explained that the updates last spring replaced a simple switch with a microprocessor, a device that has safety cutouts when it senses that something is wrong with the elevator.

“People have a tendency to want to block the doors open, and if the door starts to close and you run into it with your shoulder or a chair it jars the door and [the door] only [opens back up] so many times before the microprocessor says, ‘no, something’s wrong, I’m going to stop,’ ” Baker said.

Since the elevators are relatively new, they’ve haven’t experienced any sort of constant and heavy usage like move-in day before.

“It was a shared responsibility. Part of it was the fact that it was new, and once it got some hours on it, it needed some more adjustments,” Baker said. “And part of it was the way that it was being used during move-in. You can imagine that they take a pretty good beating.”

Along with people having to use the staircase to get to their rooms, there were also incidents of people getting stuck in the elevators. Sophomore and Thomas resident Connor Helsel was stuck in a Thomas elevator for approximately 10 minutes Saturday night during move-in day.

“It was not a terrible inconvenience, but it fact, a pretty funny experience. Especially when we all realized that the elevator had been inspected and signed off on just 10 days before,” Helsel said. “But I did feel bad for the parents I saw that were lugging their children’s item up the sweaty stair shafts.”

Jacob Hurrell-Zitelman, junior and Thomas’s eighth-floor resident assistant, accompanied Helsel in the broken elevator. (Hurrell-Zitelman is an account executive for the Trinitonian.)

“My biggest worry would be [the broken elevator’s] impact on scheduling for residents who live [in Thomas],” Hurrell-Zitelman said.

Everyone stuck in the elevator with Helsel and Hurrell-Zitelman received an email from Michael Logan, Residential Life coordinator, apologizing for the inconveniences.

“I want to express my sincerest apologies for the elevator issues that occurred this weekend, which resulted in you being stuck in the elevator. I want to assure you that the elevators were inspected a few weeks ago and met all requirements. However, we are having Facilities check them again to ensure there were no issues missed,” said Logan in his email to the people affected.

Facilities has since then had a specialist come in to do final adjustments and confirmations that all the repairs and modifications are correct.

“I don’t feel like we’re gonna have any more issues, but I do want to remind you that they are elevators. There will always be some issue but … if it shuts down, we’ll be able to find it and fix it and it will be back in service,” Baker said. “So, yeah, we’ve had some issues, they had some hard use during move-in, but we’ve made some final adjustments, and I think we’re there.”

Jolie Francis

| Class of 2021 | Majors: Urban Studies |

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