Elevators in Maple-Willow-Larch unreliable


Photo: Adam Ring/Iowa State Daily

Elevators breaking down in Maple-Willow-Larch has become a common occurrence and has sparked discussion about causes and solutions.

Emma Altheide

Anyone who visits the Maple-Willow-Larch complex frequently is likely to have experienced some elevator woes. Problems with any of the halls’ six, collective elevators are a relatively common occurrence and have sparked discussion about possible causes and solutions.

An elevator may be out of order for a period of time from a few hours to a few days, but any issue can be a major inconvenience for the large number of students using the elevators each day.

Andrea Kastorff, a junior in kinesiology and health who lives on the eighth floor of Maple Hall, said there have been problems with elevators at least once a month, sometimes more.

“I’m on the eighth floor, but there was a week [that] after both of [the elevators] went down at the same time that I used the stairs because I just avoided the elevators at all costs,” Kastorff said. “I didn’t want to deal with it.”

Tara Weber, junior and seventh-floor resident of Willow Hall, discussed a few of the causes behind the elevator problems.

“I know that there have been complaints of overfilling the elevators; that has been an issue,” Weber said.

One additional concern about elevators not working is the possibility of people being stuck inside. Kastorff knew of multiple incidents where someone was stuck in one of Maple’s elevators.

“Pretty much every time they break, there’s somebody in them,” Kastorff said.

Residence staff said as soon as they are made aware of someone being inside, a community adviser is sent to talk with them and let them the know help is on the way. Anyone stuck in an elevator is usually there for less than 15 minutes.

Cameron Aisenbrey, communications specialist with the Department of Residence, said that the work done on the elevators is extensively documented.

Maintenance hours recorded for the elevators are broken down into repair, restoration due to vandalism, and regular preventative maintenance. Of the nearly 53 hours of repair logged for the elevators in Maple Hall this semester, more than 29 hours were for repair, 11 in response to vandalism, and a little more than 12 for preventative service.

“If you’re looking at reasons it would need to be repaired other than vandalism and preventative maintenance, a lot of it, with Willow in particular, is basically an encoder error,” Aisenbrey said. “So, the elevator basically just malfunctions, essentially. So, that’s something that we would have to repair.”

Elevators in Maple-Willow-Larch are original to the buildings, constructed in the late 1960s through the early 1970s. The elevators underwent a modernization project in the early 1990s to bring them up to code and update their technology.

“Sometimes, it can be affected by the users of the elevator,” Aisenbrey said, citing problems with overcrowding and instances of people holding the doors open too long. “It can also just be a malfunction in the actual elevator, too.”

Aisenbrey said the Department of Residence administrative staff is currently deciding where their funds are most needed, but campus-wide elevator upgrades are scheduled throughout next semester.

“We understand that the issue has been identified and that it has been raised by a number of students,” Aisenbrey said. “We do understand that the problem is there and that we need to fix it.”