Opinion | Inconsistency in elevator service noticed among peers

The elevator systems within the University of Iowa have issues that should be considered to increase accessibility on campus.

Chris Klepach, Opinions Columnist

Elevators at the University of Iowa have lifted students up and provide a necessary service on campus, yet the issues that can interfere with their simple but important way of increasing overall accessibility within residence halls is often overlooked.

Elevator systems on campus have their faults: sometimes the buttons don’t work as they should, sometimes the rides take forever, or the sounds are slightly off. Whatever the issue, it can leave students exasperated.

“It’s about how they run systematically, from floor to floor,” UI freshman Ben Hughes explained. “I find myself waiting five minutes for an elevator when it’s a floor away from me, or sometimes even past me.”

In my own experience as a student living in Mayflower Hall, the elevators can prove to be problematic, especially when it comes to timing. On occasion, I’ve been late to the buses because of the unpredictable stopping within the middle of my elevator descent. When it gets busy, the elevator can take riders to the wrong floors, furthering delays. It can become hard to tell if actually pushing the button has even been registered by the elevator system.

The university needs to hear the issues students have with elevators and work to solve them, given their necessary service.

Baylor Verbrugge, a UI freshman, said the number of available elevators can pose problems in the residence halls.

“In Stanley, we just have two elevators and only 10 floors. Not many people live on them,” Verbrugge said. “In Stanley, it’s not too bad usually, but I have friends who live [in Catlett Hall] and they say the elevators take forever because there are a lot of people that live there.”

While elevators can be unpredictable, UI Facilities Management assures they are, at least, safe.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Jeff Harney, UI assistant director at Facilities Management, wrote that individual collections of buildings on campus manage their elevators on their own.

“UIHC, Housing and Dining, Athletics, and FM (GEF buildings) manage their elevators independently; however, all university elevators are maintained in accordance to the same state and national codes.  This includes monthly, annual, and five-year service increments,” Harney shared. “These service intervals are documented by the elevator maintenance contractor and reviewed by a state of Iowa inspection team within the Iowa Division of Labor. The state of Iowa provides an annual inspection of each elevator resulting in an operating permit for the elevator.”

It is important for us as a community to not overlook our elevators. For some of us, it is a convenience that lets us go to floors faster. However, it’s also important to acknowledge those in this community too, that elevators help students access their dormitories, the places in which they rest. It’s the little things that can add up.

Say, an individual has to be on the bus at a certain time, and an uncommon instance of the elevator stopping or experiencing that slight delay can most certainly have the potential to make that individual late for their class, their meetings, social events. Some may argue that they could have taken the elevator earlier, or that they need to manage time better.  It is that ableist view that hinders natural, progressive discussions to be carried out.

When things seem down, we must come up.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.