Carnegie elevator receives new control board after September entrapments

The elevator in Carnegie Hall holds an elevator operating permit that was issued in 2010. Photo by Katie Stephens.
The elevator in Carnegie Hall holds an elevator operating permit that was issued in 2010. Photo by Katie Stephens.

On Sep. 8, Maryville College student Cauncey Padilla stepped onto the elevator in Carnegie Hall with two of his friends. What was normally a routine procedure to get around the residence hall quickly became a nightmare as Padilla and his friends became stuck due to an unidentified issue with the elevator. Padilla remained trapped in the elevator for two hours before the doors opened and they received relief.

Padilla recalled calling campus security and waiting for help. However, the two hours were a lot of time to pass while being stuck inside. According to Padilla, he and his friends tried to make the best of it and passed the time by joking around and just hanging out while awaiting for security to let them out.

“That was the first time I have ever been stuck on an elevator and I have been avoiding the elevator in Carnegie ever since then,” said Padilla.

Students of Maryville College often begrudgingly refer to the Carnegie elevator as OTIS after the name of the manufacturer. Students complain about issues with the elevator such as it frequently getting stuck and making strange noises as it moves.

Senior MC student Bethany Headrick experienced an issue with the elevator a couple weeks after Padilla’s. Luckily for Headrick she was only stuck on the elevator for a few minutes. After returning from the grocery store with her suitemate, Headrick loaded on to the elevator with some other students.
“It kept making weird sounds as we were moving between floors and then got stuck,” said Headrick.

Headrick and the other students were stuck on the elevator for about 8 minutes. She and her suitemate tried to calm down the other distressed students as they called both the resident assistant (RA) and campus security. However, the entrapped students were able to get off with little luck.

“The elevator started making weird noises again as I was on the phone with the RA and began moving between floors,” said Headrick. “It then went down to the bottom floor, the doors opened and we all quickly got off.”

According to Headrick, this is not the first time she has been stuck inside the Carnegie elevator. She experienced a similar situation her sophomore year while also living in the residence hall.

According to Andrew McCall, Director of the Physical Plant, after the entrapments that happened to students in September, United Elevator came in and replaced the control board to fix any issues that were occurring. Since the repair, there have not been any more shutdowns after Sept. 27.

Countless stories and concerns have buzzed around campus since the beginning of the year. Ben Wicker, Resident Director, lives in Carnegie Hall and has worked in his position since 2008. According to Wicker, some years they can go the entire year without any issues and others they put in several maintenance requests.

“The last time we had any serious issue was four years ago,” said Wicker.

Wicker wants to assure students that precautions are always taken when someone reports an issue with the elevator. He stated that campus staff always informs security and United Elevator, the company which the college holds a service contract with. Whenever an issue is reported, United Elevator is called to come investigate.

Wicker also explained the strange noises that students often fear.

“That sound is the sound of the Velcro which is used to help attach the panels to the wall of the elevator,” said Wicker. “The other sound that occurs occasionally is that of the elevator slowing to a stop when it gets near the top floor. That sound is a little alarming, but is no indicator of anything wrong with the elevator.”

Andrew McCall, the director of the Physical Plant, also shed some light on the Carnegie elevator inspection. According to McCall, the elevator undergoes inspection twice a year by someone from the state. Campus security also inspects the elevator once a month to ensure that it is safe to use. McCall assured that United Elevator has protocol for any issues that are reported.

“They are on contract. So if something goes wrong, they are on call to come perform maintenance,” said McCall. “If someone is entrapped, they are supposed to be here within so many minutes to get them off.”

If any students should experience issues while on the Carnegie elevator, they should call campus security to report the issue.

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