By: Commentator Staff  | 

From the Archives: Elevator Woes

Editor’s Note: Over the past year, there have been multiple occurrences of elevator malfunctions at Yeshiva University. Additionally, the university has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over a three year period, primarily in regard to elevator-related issues on the Wilf and Beren Campuses. As shown in the following archive, students have indeed been facing elevator-related issues for decades. In most cases, the university administration failed to respond to student complaints. 

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Title: From the Archives (March 25, 1971; Volume 36 Issue 10) — Ups and Downs

Author: Andrew Geller and The Commentator Governing Board of 1970-1

Strange! We wonder why the library was constructed in such a way that elevator operations are integrally connected with the front door mechanism. This must be the case, for when the elevators broke in mid-afternoon some days ago the library closed down. Using this same logic, the college should call off classes in the main building, where the elevator never works, in Furst Hall should the elevators fail, and forbid dorm life in Rubin and Morg during frequent elevator stoppages. 

We thank Dr. Duker, the Dean, et. al. for their benevolent concern for our health in forbidding us to walk up the library stairs. And we guarantee that so little studying is done in the elevators that their breakage would not affect study habits elsewhere in the library. So please, to whom it may concern, enough of this asininity — keep the library open. 

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Editor’s Note: The following piece is an excerpt from a larger story on facilities mismanagement at YU. 

Title: From the Archives (April 7, 1992; Volume 57 Issue 10) — Special Editorial: Facilities MisManagement 

Author: Jay Bailey and The Commentator Governing Board of 1991-2

The decision to discuss an individual’s behavior is one that requires a great deal of thought. Our purpose is neither to poke fun, nor to malign. The issue we discuss below relates to the efficiency and atmosphere of every aspect of Yeshiva University. 

The appearance of this article is prompted by a strong contention, frequently voiced by students, faculty, employees, and administration. Before proceeding with this objective, the editorial board consulted with a rabbinic authority as per halachic considerations. 

March 5, 1992: 

Approximately twenty students carrying a letter to Executive Vice President Egon Brenner, along with two Commentator reporters, entered the elevators of Belfer Hall heading for the twelfth floor. Near the tenth floor, the elevators went dead and began descending back towards the ground floor. The three elevators servicing Belfer Hall opened in the lobby and one of the reporters standing at the front of the elevator bank asked, “What happened?” [Jeffrey] Socol retorted, “Electrical failure. The elevators broke.” Revel student Robert Klapper, who was in the lobby during the episode, informed the Commentator reporter that he had seen Socol turn off the elevators. The reporter approached Socol and asked to see the electrical report regarding the elevators when it came in. Socol responded, “Shut the hell up.” The reporter said, “Excuse me?” Socol repeated, “Shut the hell up.” Students began heading for the staircase, intending to climb the twelve flights but Socol locked the door to the stairwell before they could reach it. He sent a security guard to shut down the freight elevator as well. Finally, Dean of Students Efrem Nulman pulled Socol aside to inquire what he was doing. 

Forty-five minutes later, after students found a staircase to climb the twelve flights and had finished presenting their letter to Brenner’s office, one Revel student asked Socol why he had turned the elevators off. Socol responded, “We don’t have to let you go upstairs if we don’t want to.” 

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Title: From the Archives (February 21, 2000; Volume 65 Issue 7) — Twelve Trapped in Belfer Elevator on First Day of Semester 

Author: Jonathan Minkove 

On Monday, January 24th, the first day of the new semester, YC/IBC student Dov Pickholtz intended to arrive early to class Sometimes plans do not go as expected, and on this day Dov’s well intended attempt at punctuality was stalled. At 2:45, Pickholtz, proud that he would be fifteen minutes early to class, entered the middle elevator in Belfer Hall along with eleven other students. But then the unthinkable happened — between floors 1 and 2, the elevator came to a sudden halt. The students called security from the elevator phone and were told that a technician was on the way. 

Pickholtz explained, “We were all relaxed and cracking jokes. Ten minutes had passed, we buzzed again and they told us that we will be out in 2-5 minutes. A small, elderly lady was not so relaxed and she continued to press the call button every couple of minutes.” 

As those packed within the enclosure awaited rescue, occupants with cell phones made quick use of them. A vice president of fundraising, who happened to be on the elevator, called Jeff Socol’s office to make sure he was aware of the situation and to see how long it would take for the rescue operation. One student used his cell phone simply to say hello to his father before casually mentioning that he was calling from a stalled elevator. 

Another ten minutes had passed, but surprisingly almost everyone kept their cool. Pickholtz tried to pull a Bruce Willis by opening the elevator doors with his bare hands. Much to his surprise the doors easily opened. He peered down and saw the technicians working, and they hollered up to him to immediately shut the doors. While the elderly lady continued to periodically hit the call button, most people were cracking jokes and even planning a reunion for themselves. The brunt of many of these jokes was none other than SSSB/JSS Sophomore, Simon Landsberg. Simon was the last to enter the elevator as the doors were about to close. Because of this, he became the scapegoat on the trip. “People were jokingly calling me the cause because I was the last to enter,” said Landsberg. “I laughed at these cracks but I felt guilty afterward because of my past history with elevators.” Simon was referring to an elevator stoppage that he endured at the 181st Street train station for an hour and a quarter. 

This time, Landsberg and the rest of the elevator passengers would have a significantly shorter bonding period. After forty-five minutes, the elevator began moving again and returned to the first floor. The group quickly celebrated and everyone took the stairs to complete the journey that had begun at 2:45. 

Security and Facilities Management were as usual unavailable for comment, but Pickholtz assures us that “It was no one’s fault; just a funny thing that happened.” 

Photo Caption: The Commentator archives
Photo Credit: The Commentator