Malfunctioning elevator leads to some complaints from university’s riders

By Gracy Vargas


The Administration Building is among the oldest buildings on the University of the Incarnate Word campus and this also includes its elevator.

Over the past few weeks the building’s elevator has been out-of-order for hours at a time causing headaches for students, staffers and faculty alike.

“When we came back from Christmas break there was like, a sign that said that it was going to be fixed over Christmas break,” said pre-pharmacy major Brittney DeFranco, who lives in a fourth-floor room. “We’d come all the way back from Christmas break, it’s like a month, and it still wasn’t fixed so we had to take the stairs to take all of our stuff back up,”

When the elevator breaks down, some classes must be relocated to classrooms in other buildings in order to accommodate those who cannot make the long walk up the building’s stairs. Oftentimes, the person who cannot climb up the stairs is the professor. Such is the case with Dr. Valerie Greenberg, whose office and classes have been primarily located in the Communication Arts Department on the second floor the past 25 years.

“I have seen this elevator go in and out of service frequently through the months and years that I’ve been here, including the last ‘famous’ outage when they moved people from this building,” Greenberg said. “They moved me from the building because I had just had knee surgery, and my dean felt like I should not have to climb the stairs, and so she moved me to the Joyce Building where I could use a nice elevator that always works.”

Greenberg also revealed she has “relocated herself” in the past.

“Many times through the years, if I had a reason that I couldn’t climb the stairs, I’d have classes meet out on the lawn. This semester, I’ve had classes meet in the cafeteria. I’ve had classes to meet in places that I could access.”

A slide presentation with official documents provided by Cynthia Escamilla, UIW’s general counsel, shows there have been a significant number of repairs performed on the elevator since 2011. The majority of those repairs came as a result of problems with equipment.

According to the report, preventive maintenance on the elevator’s brakes, shoes, springs, coils and cores have been completed by Otis Elevator Company between February 2013 and this year. However, during that same period, the elevator has malfunctioned 13 times due to problems with equipment and another four times due to vandalism, water damage, or other unspecified reasons.

Director of Facilities Steve Heying said the school has contracts with several companies to fix elevators on campus. When there is a problem with any elevator on campus, the school calls one of these companies, which then sends a mechanic to inspect the issue.

As for adding another elevator to the building, Heying said the school is “looking into it,” but that it is “not easy.” However, some students are already brainstorming and coming up with ideas on how to improve the situation.

“One of my students suggested putting a second elevator on the outside of the building, like the kind that you see on the Hyatt Hotel, so then if this one broke down there was another one, and also there would be less traffic with this one if you had an alternate one,” Greenberg said.

For now, the elevator’s unexpected failures will continue to interfere with daily life at UIW.

“If you live here (in the Administration Building), it’s not quite that easy,” said DeFranco of Keller, Texas, near Fort Worth. “I’m kind of mad about it just because, I mean, I probably should walk up the stairs but I live here and so I have to take it more than often.”

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