The sign sits beside the elevator on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in South Hall in Baton Rouge La.

Editor’s note: Since this article’s publication, issues with the annex elevator in Patrick F. Taylor Hall have been resolved and the elevator is back in service, the College of Engineering’s Director of IT Chris Schwehm said. 
Nicholson Gateway resident Ashanti Stokes was on her way to the second-floor printing room when the elevator passed her destination and hit the very bottom on what was supposed to be a quick trip to Canal Hall’s printing room.
The next thing Stokes, a mass communication senior, and her friend knew, they were stuck on the first floor with no way out, hearing the unmistakable thud of a broken elevator. They immediately hit the call button.
Instead of connecting to LSUPD, LSU Transit answered the call. When the worker picked up, Stokes asked if she could be connected to the police but was told it was not possible. The worker, with no way to help, hung up.
Stokes and her friend were now stuck in an elevator with no phone service and no connection to local authorities.
“We just [started] banging on the door for the elevator, waiting for someone,” Stokes said. “We knew eventually someone would have to come by.”
After being trapped for about 20 minutes in the hot elevator, she said that help finally came in the form of a student worker who heard their cries and called the police.
“They eventually come and they start on it, trying to break us out,” Stokes said. “That takes like 10 [to] 15 minutes.”
Stokes is not the first student to get caught in an elevator on campus. Many have passed taped-off elevators, haphazard out of order signs or had the unfortunate experience of being trapped themselves.
According to interim associate director of Facility Maintenance Brian Broussard, there are three workers on campus who are contracted through Stratos, the current elevator contractor for LSU.
The contracted workers on campus will often be called because of spilled food caught in the door and elevators being held open for an extended period. Both of these require a reset on the elevator to get it running again and can be resolved within an hour. But other elevator complications are not as simple as an on-the-spot fix.
“[An] elevator is like a car. There are a million parts,” Broussard said. “There [are] mechanical components, there is hardware, there [are] even software components.”
Some areas on campus, like the Life Sciences Building, have older elevators, which can result in more maintenance calls, Broussard said. In this case, the elevator is analyzed and reported through a third-party elevator consultant. The consultants then communicate the steps needed to upgrade and fix the elevator.
According to Broussard, the Life Sciences elevator has been put on the deferred maintenance list that will be addressed when funds are available.
The sign sits beside the elevator on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in South Hall in Baton Rouge La.
According to executive director of Facility and Property Oversight Tammy Millican, “all elevators that were tested this summer passed inspection and any code issues on the inspection reports have been addressed,” adding that the elevators around campus are serviced and inspected annually by the State Fire Marshal.
Despite Facility Services’ maintenance of the elevators on campus, sometimes repairs and service slips through the cracks. This was the case for the elevator in Patrick F. Taylor Hall’s annex, which has been out of service for a prolonged period of time, said Chris Schwehm, the College of Engineering’s director of IT.
“It was fine for the longest time,” Schwehm said. “Probably somewhere between six to nine months ago it just stopped working.”
Two trouble tickets were filed through FAMIS, the maintenance management system used by LSU Facility Services, on Oct. 28, 2021, requesting service for the sole elevator in the annex, which was installed during the second phase of Patrick F. Taylor Hall’s construction in 2017.
The tickets, which complained that the elevator couldn’t access past the second floor, were marked as complete on Nov. 11, 2021, and Jan. 26, 2022, respectively.
Faculty members had previously filed complaints about the elevator, Schwehm said.
Another ticket was filed on Nov. 9, 2021, complaining that “the elevator does not open, and it does not come when it’s called.” This ticket was marked as complete on Feb. 7, 2022.
According to Schwehm, the issue persisted even after the tickets were marked as complete.
“We’ve had tickets in; they’ve never fixed it,” Schwehm said. “It just kind of sat there. Every time we inquire about it, it just gets postponed, and we never get a real answer about what the problem was.”
According to Schwehm, since there is only one elevator in the annex, many professors and students have to cross the entire building to get to a working elevator to access the annex’s second and third floor classrooms.
“I think it does create issues for some people, and I also think there are people that may have ADA issues you don’t obviously recognize to the untrained eye,” Schwehm said. “You really don’t know how many people it’s affecting; it could be a lot more than we are aware of.”
Despite Schwehm and other faculty in Patrick F. Taylor Hall taking issue with Facility Services’ maintenance of the elevator, other problems are solved more expediently. Schwehm said that when it comes to issues with the HVAC system or anything dealing with water, “they get over there really quick and do what they need to do to alleviate the problem.”
“I just don’t understand why we can’t get it fixed,” Schwehm said. “[But] I’ve been elsewhere on campus where things have been much worse.”
According to Millican, the building that receives the most calls concerning its elevators is the Student Union, with its six elevators receiving 27 calls this year as of Oct. 5. Other buildings that receive frequent elevator calls are the LSU Law Center, the LSU Library and Herget Hall.
“In many cases, the number of elevator repair calls Facility Services received is impacted by the age of the building, number of stories and level of usage,” Millican said. “Therefore, you will see more calls for buildings such as the library, residential life facilities and Life Sciences.”
Despite elevators being frequently serviced and having access to Facility Services’ maintenance, campus’ issue with elevators extends beyond disrepair. In multiple locations on campus, students and faculty don’t have access to any elevators, much less a functioning one.
National resource ecology and history junior Pascale Delahoussaye fractured her ankle and had surgery in August. She said it was particularly tricky to navigate campus, especially having to use crutches to get to her third-floor unit at East Campus Apartments with handfuls of groceries.
“It’s definitely a hassle going up and down those stairs every day,” Delahoussaye said. “I lack stamina at the end of the day. A 10-minute walk for me is like a 20-minute odyssey.”
East Campus Apartments and West Campus Apartments, as well as other buildings like Himes Hall, don’t have elevator access, forcing Delahoussaye and others with more permanent mobility disabilities to adapt to a lack of elevators around campus in specific areas.
“The lack of elevators on campus, it comes as a shock that there aren’t elevators in these buildings,” she said.
According to Millican, the university’s ADA code requires new academic buildings to have elevators, but because many of the university’s older buildings, like Himes, were built prior to ADA codes and haven’t been brought up to code. East Campus Apartments and other apartments are not required to have elevators, Millican said.
With the exception of Himes and her apartment, Delahoussaye said that campus is extremely accessible with her boot and crutches, praising the Energy, Coast and Environment Building’s elevators.
She also said that she had to figure out Himes and East Campus Apartments’ lack of accessibility the hard way, encountering Himes’ steep descent to the testing center.
“It is LSU’s duty towards their students that they have the accessibility,” Delahoussaye said. “Because it does definitely impact the quality of your education, if every day, you have to organize your classes around which building [you] can enter.”
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