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Updated: November 3, 2023 @ 11:28 am
Students are speaking out after elevators across several campus buildings have broken down, leaving members of Wayne State’s disabled community without necessary accommodations.
Residents of Anthony Wayne Drive have reported elevators breaking in the building every few weeks, with the most recent notice sent on Feb. 5 that the north elevators were both inoperable. This comes one week after WSU community members shared their concerns about elevator conditions at a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Coalition of Unions.
AWD resident Alexa Dewey said the elevators in her building have broken several times during this year.
“It’s not cool because they say that AWD is a handicapped accessible building,” Dewey said. “But because the elevators are always broken I don’t see how they could advertise it as that, it’s not fair.”
In a Feb. 5 email to AWD residents, students living on floors seven to 11 were invited to request an emergency room change to accommodate those with health challenges.
There are currently nine buildings on campus slated for elevator modernization, Associate Vice President of Facilities Planning and Management Rob Davenport said.
One elevator in Old Main has been out of service for a couple years due to this modernization project, Davenport said.
Davenport said the time frame for modernization projects is about six to eight months.
Davenport said a second elevator in Old Main is earmarked for modernization as well but won’t begin until the adjacent elevator is complete and working reliably.
“In the past three years we’ve spent nearly $13 million on elevator repairs and modernization and as we go into this particular fiscal year we’re already putting potentially $5 million into elevators again this year,” Davenport said.
Chatsworth resident Jackie Roach said although not currently undergoing maintenance, the elevators in their building break frequently.
“The elevators are always broken, the buttons don’t even work,” Roach said. “It’s really frustrating because why would you build seven floors on a building if I’m supposed to have to take the stairs up every time?”
Roach said the elevator issues in the parking structures also make it difficult for disabled people to find easy access to parking on campus.
“The parking structure two elevators just got fixed after being broken for months and yet people are still getting stuck in them,” Roach said. “For weeks they did not work so it was really frustrating because what are disabled people supposed to do? I’m a fat person, I don’t want to walk up a bunch of flights of stairs, it’s exhausting.”
Roach said students wanting to park on the lower floors for better accessibility may have a hard time due to limited parking spots caused by ongoing cleanup from the structure fire in November.
Davenport said issues with the elevators at AWD have been ongoing since the building’s opening in 2018.
“The building is relatively new, but we have had chronic problems with one elevator, elevator number three specifically,” Davenport said. “There are two elevators, three and four, that go from levels seven to 11 and number three has been a chronic problem.”
Davenport said the maintenance being done on elevator three is not part of the ongoing modernization initiative.
Dewey said the shortest amount of time she has seen an elevator be fixed in AWD is two weeks.
“I literally have the most expensive room on campus and now I never want to live there again,” Dewey said. “It’s pretty frustrating that I’m paying 13 grand a semester to live there and I don’t have a reliable elevator. I can’t even imagine how handicapped people feel…”
Theresa De Benedetti is The South End’s breaking news correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Cover photo by Theresa De Benedetti.
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