Reports of on-campus elevator entrapments spike

Student compares experience to Tower of Terror

The college’s police department helped release students from on-campus elevators in six separate incidents this September. Half of those incidents involved elevators in the Paramount residence hall.

The Paramount residence hall elevators held the most entrapments this year with five total incidents. Other residence halls, along with the Ansin and Tufte buildings, had one or two incidents each, according to previous incident journals.

In 2017, 2 Boylston Place contained the most incidents, with seven reports from students trapped in the elevators after the building opened.

This year, three out of five elevator incidents in Paramount residence hall occurred during the last week of September. Loose wires inside the main travel cables caused issues in both the building’s elevators, according to Director of Building Operations Joseph Knoll.

Freshman Delaney Katz called the Emerson College Police Department on Sept. 29 while trapped in one of the elevators in the Paramount residence hall with seven other students.

“As soon as we got onto the elevator, it started going up until we felt it fall and then go back up and fall back down again,” Katz said. “It probably dropped up and down for like twenty or so more times. It was like the Tower of Terror ride in Disney. It was really scary.”

ECPD responded and released the students by prying open the elevator doors, according to ECPD Deputy Chief Eric Schiazza. Within 30 minutes, the students exited uninjured.

Technicians shut off both elevators from 1 a.m. to noon on the day after the incident for repairs, according to Knoll. At noon, the technicians fixed one elevator as they already worked on it for safety issues, but the other elevator—which held the trapped students—required a three-day-long repair.

Freshman Jonathan Ross, one of the seven students trapped in the Paramount elevator with Katz, said the lack of a second elevator caused delays for him and other students trying to enter and exit Paramount.

Schiazza said ECPD opened the stairwell and freight elevator for student-use after the incident. Freight elevators typically carry large items floor to floor—and unlike Paramount residence building’s standard elevators, which only reach a limited number of floors—the freight elevators open on all floors.

Schiazza called this many elevator incidents within a month a rare occurrence.

Knoll said the college does not directly manage the elevators on campus. An outside company, Delta Beckwith, regulates and repairs the elevators.

“There have been very few instances where this has happened in the past. They really do a stellar job with the elevators, this time it was really rare where there were several entrapments in elevators,” Schiazza said.

Knoll said the college has a Delta Beckwith technician on-campus Monday through Friday to maintain and inspect the elevators from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If an emergency call happens overnight or on weekends, a technician travels to Emerson for repairs.

The decade-old elevators in Paramount residence hall underwent all of the regularly scheduled maintenance tests needed to ensure safety standards, according to Knoll, but he called the incidents unforeseeable.

“This is something you really cannot predict—we were prepared for it as best as we could,” Knoll said. “I don’t remember ever at least not having one elevator operating, so this is a first for something like that.”

Sophomore Maeve Chapman, who ’s living in Paramount for a second year, called the elevator malfunctions a prevalent problem on-campus.

“I feel like it’s getting worse, but that might just be my bias of living in Paramount,” Chapman said.

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