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Four students trapped in elevator for 20 minutes 

Silver elevator in a yellow wall
Dylan Pichnarcik / THE GATEPOST

By Adam Harrison

News Editor

By Dylan Pichnarcik 

Asst. News Editor 

Four students were trapped in one of the elevators for 20 minutes in West Hall on Sunday, Feb. 18. 

Kyle Walker, Lauren Mazzarella, Nathan Robillard, and Kailyn Bearce remained in the elevator for approximately 20 minutes before the Framingham Fire Dept. was dispatched to FSU to free them by prying open the doors. 

Walker, a junior, said multiple pieces of the elevator malfunctioned throughout the time they were in the elevator. “We were about a foot above the lobby floor…” He said, “When we pushed the [emergency call] button, nobody responded.” 

The incident was the first time Walker had experienced an elevator malfunction on campus and he said he panicked. 

“We were all really just trying not to freak out. So we distracted ourselves by playing games, making up hypothetical situations, and talking through it,” Walker said. 

Mazzarella, a junior, was the student who initially realized the elevator had malfunctioned.

Mazzarella said, “I recall panicking a bit when I realized.

“I was the one who pushed the call button. It was surreal because I ride that elevator every day and never expected to ever use the emergency button,” she said. 

Robillard and Bearce remained in the elevator with Walker and Mazzarella until the Framingham Fire Dept. arrived and freed the group. 

Two elevators inside West Hall can be used by students at all hours of the day. There is another elevator outside of West that has not been operational all year.  

Maureen Fowler, environmental health and safety coordinator, said, “The outside elevator was recently repaired and we are still waiting for reinspection.”

The group was stuck in the elevator on the right side, according to Walker.

Several certificates posted in the elevators across campus indicate they are past their expiration date. The certificates displayed in one of the elevators in Larned Hall and one in Corinne Hall Towers show an expiration date of July 31, 2022. 

She said the inspections are “up to the state - the state manages the state inspections. They tell us when they’re coming. They give us the notice and say they’re coming on this particular day, and that’s not negotiable.”

Fowler said when the Facilities Department is notified, they make a phone call to the service provider as soon as possible. When the complaint is made before noon, an inspector will usually come out on the same day. 

Both the Office of Public Safety and Inspection (OPSI) and the University have a list containing all the individual elevators and their inspection expiration dates. 

Massachusetts OPSI Representative George Ramia said, “It’s the responsibility of the owner to notify us that their elevator is up for inspection and to process that with the paperwork and fees.”

“It’s just like a car inspection - the owner is always the one responsible,” he said.  

Ramia said during inspections, “All aspects of the safety devices are tested on the elevator,” he said. 

According to the updated certificates that are not currently posted, the indoor West Hall elevators are certified as of June 14, 2023, and August 3, 2023, and both expire on June 30, 2024.

Fowler said, “Posting the certificates is a different problem. I have lots of copies of the certificates in my office that the technicians just keep forgetting to put in elevators, but they are all up to date.”

Students should expect to see the updated certificates in the elevators by the end of the week, she said. 

There is no written plan for accommodations in the instance that all elevators in a building are nonfunctional, but “we would figure out a way to have classes on a different level if there’s someone who needs it,” she said. 

Fowler said, “Whenever there’s a report of a problem, we try to have it looked at right away. We really do try to have the elevators working all the time.”

All inspectors who test the elevator systems at FSU and other locations in the Commonwealth have had a minimum experience of five years as elevator mechanics before they were hired. They work with the “elevator company, alarm company, and backup generator entities” to ensure proper function, Ramia said. 

According to a Feb 20. email from Christopher Addario, the area director of Corinne Hall Towers, the fourth-floor elevator doors were “heavily damaged and vandalized.” The cost of the damage will be split among residents of Towers through their paid damage deposit. Any additional cost may be charged to students at the end of the year. 

Fowler said, “When there’s vandalism in them or something has dropped in them - they get broken - and you have to be a licensed elevator mechanic to do any work on them. Facilities are not allowed to do any work on an elevator.”

Lindsey Hedlund, a freshman resident of Towers said “It’s really frustrating that people can’t act responsible and like adults while at a University and then expect people to pay for their mistakes.”

Raffi Elkhoury, SGA vice president, said he plans to raise the issue of elevator safety at the next SGA meeting. 

When asked about her experience with Corinne Towers Hall elevators, freshman Drew Hendrigan said, “Well, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. ... In the beginning, the two elevators worked. Then one went out of commission.

“Then after Christmas break, they both worked, but now one’s out of commission so we’re only down to the one elevator.” 

Freshman Bella Medeiros said, “There’s always been one elevator always broken, and they don’t fix it until the next month or the next year. It gets really frustrating because if you live on the top floor, you’re kind of screwed.”

“The elevators are expired, too. That’s really unsafe. What if they break down? What are we supposed to do - especially if people are in wheelchairs? 

Freshman Emma Ginter said, “They’re always broken. That’s all I’ve got to say. At least in Towers, that’s how it is.” 

“It doesn’t surprise me, but I really think they should get that checked out,” she said, concerning the elevators posting expired certificates. 

Sophomore Christian Taylor said, “I lived in Larned my freshman year, and they’re definitely slower than where I live now - Miles Bibb. I noticed for a long time that they had the tag up for the inspection sticker that was out of date for a long time.

“The Larned elevators are slower and smaller, and Miles Bibb is quicker. I think the building in general is just newer. In general, I would say they work. I’ve never been stuck in an elevator at Framingham,” he said. 



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