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Elevator refurbishing complications are frustrating CSULB faculty and staff

Unanticipated refurbishing complications leave MHB building without reliable elevators.

The+elevator+located+in+the+Macintosh+Building+on+Upper+Campus+now+features+an+attendant+in+charge+of+riding+with+passengers.+
The elevator located in the Macintosh Building on Upper Campus now features an attendant in charge of riding with passengers.

The elevator located in the Macintosh Building on Upper Campus now features an attendant in charge of riding with passengers.

Sabrina Flores

Sabrina Flores

The elevator located in the Macintosh Building on Upper Campus now features an attendant in charge of riding with passengers.

Cheantay Jensen, Staff Writer

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The elevator which transports faculty and staff up and down the nine stories in the McIntosh Humanities Building has consistently been in and out of service, and agitated professors who house their offices within the building are expressing their concerns.

A staff member, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, voiced their exasperation after enduring 30 minutes inside the MHB cabin earlier this year. Unable to successfully alert outside authorities or use their phone from inside the steel cell, they had to wait until the elevator started up again on its own.

“It makes us feel like until someone dies, it [the elevator disruptions] won’t matter,” they said.

On July 10, facilities administration officially closed down one of the two fifty-year-old elevators for repairs. Stress from increased use of the other operational elevator resulted in two separate complications which trapped several people.

The first occurred last week and involved three women. The second transpired Thursday at approximately 2 p.m., stalling at least one individual.

“There had been an email that just came out that said we should have confidence in the elevators,” said Professor David T Stewart, chair of the religious studies department. “The facilities management people and the contractor who was doing repairs had passed off on it. And fifteen minutes after that email came out someone got trapped in the elevator.”

Shortly after, Mary Stephens, vice president of administration and finance, ordered the lift to cease all operations.

But long before the facilities department was compelled to act, reports mounted of faculty and staff being stranded in defunct elevators for minutes to hours at a time.

“These things [issues] had all been reported. Whether they were all logged in is hard to say but they were all reported in one fashion or another,” Stewart said.

Many were unable to call for outside help due to the confusing architecture of the elevator call system, which requires those stranded to push down the button.

“A typical reaction of a desperate person is to push the button over and over, and so it’s like pushing on a walkie talkie. They are turning it on and off. But this is not clear and it’s also counter-intuitive,” Stewart said.

Instructions were posted subsequently although not at eye level. And in the event of a light shortage during a breakdown, this has a limited benefit.

After falling nearly a floor down the elevator, Stewart knew he needed to use his influence as a member of the academic senate.

“Two years ago when I brought it up in the senate [meeting] they did promise to schedule the refurbishing of the elevators, but it’s been delayed repeatedly,” Stewart said.

Six years ago a staff member was crushed to death trying to escape an elevator that was stuck between floors in the Foundations building. Since then, all the elevators on campus have been refurbished save for the two inside MHB.

The MHB building was built in the ‘60s and is one of the most outdated and densely populated faculty buildings on campus. Yet these elevators were not considered a priority.

“The University has a long list of elevators requiring modernization based upon a survey done a few years back. All Priority I and Priority II elevators were done first, as these were in the most critical critical state for repairs.” said Tony Malagrino, the interim associate Vice President of Physical Planning and Facilities. “The MHB elevators were actually not in either the Priority I or II category. They were added to the repair list due to a recent increase in maintenance work and because they are in a high rise building,” he said.

Starting Monday, the campus facilities department has posted janitorial staff inside and outside the MHB elevators to escort passengers up and down the building’s lifts and inform them about ongoing repairs. In the event of the north elevator breaking down again, janitorial staff has also been advised to help staff carry their books, bikes or other belongings up the nine flights of stairs. Maintenance is slated to end on both elevators December 2017.

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