By: Yitzchak Carroll and Elisheva Kohn  | 

Numerous Elevator Malfunctions Trouble Students, Faculty

At least four elevator malfunctions occurred this past week on both the Beren and Wilf Campuses, affecting numerous students and faculty members and disrupting class schedules. In at least one incident, 911 was called and the FDNY responded to physically break university staff out of a broken elevator. 

At approximately 9 a.m. Thursday morning, four Beren students, one faculty member and a maintenance worker were stuck in an elevator on the seventh floor of Stanton Hall for a few minutes before elevator personnel forcefully pried open the door and rescued them. An hour and a half later, a large group of Beren students, as well as a faculty member, were taking the elevator from the tenth floor to the lobby of Stanton Hall when it abruptly stopped on the seventh floor. They were rescued by elevator personnel after approximately five minutes.

At the time, two out of the three elevators in Stanton Hall were already broken, leaving students with no other choice but to take the third, faulty elevator. “It reflects poorly on the institution,” shared a frustrated professor who started class 15 minutes late because of the Stanton Hall elevator malfunctions. “Professors and students can’t get to class on time because the elevators are so crappy. It’s a schande on the university.” He suggested that students “do a one-day walkout” to urge the university to properly take care of elevator-related issues on campus.

“It was a pretty inconvenient experience, but thank God I’m appreciative of the maintenance crew that helped us out,” shared Talya Hyman (SCW ‘20), one of the students who was stuck in the elevator during the second incident on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, The Commentator learned that Men’s Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) Dean Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky and UTS Academic Adviser Rabbi Willie Balk were rescued by New York City firefighters from a Glueck elevator. The rescue occurred on the sixth floor of the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Studies a little after 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, and was confirmed by a number of faculty bystanders. According to a comment from Rabbi Balk on his Facebook post about the incident, the rabbis were freed from the elevator after 25 minutes. Rabbis Kalinsky and Balk both confirmed the incident to The Commentator but did not comment further. 

These incidents follow the FDNY’s rescue of seven students from a malfunctioning elevator in Morgenstern Residence Hall on Thursday, Jan. 23, as The Commentator previously reported. Following that incident, Randy Apfelbaum, Chief Facilities & Administrative Officer at YU, apologized for the malfunction in a statement to The Commentator.

Throughout this week, elevators in many buildings on YU’s Wilf and Beren Campuses have been malfunctioning or breaking. On Monday night, one student was rescued from an elevator in the Mendel Gottesman Library on the Wilf Campus after he called security when the doors failed to open. At one point on Tuesday afternoon, the sixteen-story Belfer Hall reportedly was left with no operating elevators after all three of its elevators were broken or being repaired. An email to Wilf Campus students and faculty on Wednesday evening from YU Operations informed students that all Belfer elevators were back in service. Beren students have reportedly not received any emails regarding the elevator incidents from YU’s administration over the last week, despite the numerous malfunctions that have occurred on the Beren Campus.

“It shouldn't take multiple incidents of people getting stuck on elevators for someone to realize that we should probably just gut the whole infrastructure and repair everything,” said Matthew Silkin (YC ‘20). “Any other institution would have started on this months ago. Why the university still hasn't done anything is frankly baffling.”

A number of other hazardous elevator incidents have occurred recently, including a concussion incurred by Shifra Lindenberg (SSSB ‘21) after a Brookdale elevator allegedly went into a “free-fall” last May. In November, a Stanton Hall elevator reportedly fell three floors before stopping abruptly with a student inside.

Recently, The Commentator reported that Yeshiva University was issued dozens of building code violations and tens of thousands in fines, primarily based on elevator-related issues on both campuses. The university was also issued a number of fire code summonses in recent years, including for an inoperative fire command communication system in an elevator.

As of the time of publication, the university did not respond to The Commentator’s repeated requests for comment.

Avi Hirsch contributed to this story.

Photo Caption: An elevator in Stanton Hall broke multiple times Thursday morning with students and staff stuck inside.
Photo Credit: Elisheva Kohn