Offline Grise elevator causes classroom swap

Jackson French

The elevator located in Grise Hall, a shortcut for students on their way to class, is out of commission for the entirety of the fall semester.

But while it may be an inconvenience for many students making their way up the Hill, it’s a bigger problem for students, faculty and staff who can’t use the stairs.

In an email sent over the summer, Michelle Trawick, associate dean for Faculty and Administration, said her office would work to identify students who needed access or a classroom location changed to a more accessible floor.

Matt Davis, Student Disability Services coordinator, works with facilities to accommodate disabled students. Davis said he was hopeful Student Disability Services caught any potential conflicts as a result of the elevator repairs before the semester starts.

“If a student has a disability where it’s hard for them — or impossible for them — to go up steps, then we find an alternate location for that class to meet, rather than on the top floors of Grise,” Davis said.

So far, Davis said his office hasn’t received any concerns or complaints from students.

Aside from students, three or four disabled faculty and staff members have had their classrooms or offices moved, Huda Melky, Equal Opportunity director, said. She said not everybody has heard about the elevator’s closure, so her office will be making more accommodations starting this week as more people find out about the elevator’s absence.

“We definitely made every effort to make changes in classrooms for faculty and staff,” Melky said. “And if any faculty or staff didn’t know about the elevator in Grise, they can definitely communicate with us and we will make every possible way for them to get their job done and be comfortable this semester.”

Charles Harrison, maintenance services manager for Facilities Management, told the Herald in July the age of the elevator caused problems that could have been a potential safety hazard.

“The leak is in parts that can’t be accessed down in the ground,” Harrison said.

The elevator was scheduled to be renovated at the same time as Grise, the next big campus project after the Downing Student Union renovation and creation of the Honors International building.

However, Harrison said once the leak was discovered, the elevator was immediately taken offline to prevent further issues that could arise.

“There was no hesitation in the decision to shut it down,” Harrison said. “Now it’s just a matter of how quick the industry can provide the elevator.”

Which, he said, could be a while.

“An elevator is not like an item that you go to the hardware store (for),” he said. “Big items like this are custom built to fit your building.”

Once the parts are made, Facilities Management will have to tear out what’s currently in the shaft and rebuild components to fit the new elevator. The new elevator uses the cable drive system as opposed to hydraulic pumps used in the old one, and will result in a quieter and smoother ride.

“When you ride it next time, you won’t believe how smooth it is,” he said.

The deadline for installing the new elevator is Jan. 7.