Elevator jams get students down

by Beacon Staff • March 26, 2008

There have been seven incidents of students getting stuck reported in the Public Safety Log since the beginning of the school year.,Elevators in the Little Building and Piano Row have been breaking down regularly this school year, according to the Emerson Public Safety Log and students who live in the dormitories.

There have been seven incidents of students getting stuck reported in the Public Safety Log since the beginning of the school year. Three of those have taken place within the last two weeks.

Many students living in the dorms have reported brief jams on several occasions that they did not report to Public Safety because the elevator eventually starting moving again on its own.

Sophomore Tara Goss said she has been stuck in the elevators at 80 Boylston St. on more than one occasion with the problem correcting itself after about five minutes.

"But when you push the button to call Safety, it just beeps and doesn't do anything," the writing, literature and publishing major said.

Audio/radio major Ryan MacKenzie said he has had similar experiences in the Little Building dormitory.

"Sometimes when you press the button to go down to the second floor, the elevators will get stuck between the second and third floors," the sophomore said. "I've been stuck with two RAs before, and when we tried the call button, no one answered."

Director of Facilities Neal Lespasio said in an e-mail message that the elevators at Emerson are subject to an ongoing maintenance program, and that they are constructed to comply with federal, state and local regulations.

Each elevator is inspected annually by the Department of Public Safety and awarded a "certificate for use of elevator."

"The Facilities department logs all service calls and notifies the contractor within minutes," Lespasio said.

Emerson uses the Delta Beckwith Elevators company, according to Lespasio. In an April 2007 article written for the University of Rhode Island's student newspaper The Good 5 Cent Cigar, the university found that the company had failed to complete 24 of the 55 inspections required by state law.

URI has since replaced Delta Beckwith with Otis Elevator Company.

Lespasio said there is a licensed elevator technician on call during business hours. After-hour calls are forwarded to an on-call mechanic, who must respond within an hour if a person is trapped in the elevator.

However, in two reported cases, the effort to free trapped students from a jammed elevator took much longer.

Junior Jaclyn Bauman said she recently missed a play she planned to attend after getting stuck in an elevator in the Piano Row dormitory for almost two hours.

"My boyfriend jumped a little bit, and it just stopped," the broadcast journalism major said. "We called Public Safety and they responded really fast, but it took a half an hour for someone to get to where we were and another 45 minutes to actually get the elevator moving again."

Manny Psihountas, a media studies major, got stuck between the first and third floors of Piano Row at midnight with two friends last November.

"We called Campus Security but they couldn't respond right away, so they had to call in an elevator technician, which is why we were stuck so long," the junior said.