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A problem is “elevating” in the North Building

As someone who is reliant on a walker to get around, Sharice Osei doesn’t have the option to rush up the stairs to class when the elevators don’t arrive in Hunter North. Instead she has to wait, and wait, and wait.

“Sometimes I wait for 20 minutes,” said Osei, a senior psychology major. “It’s too much of a struggle. It’s really annoying.”

Sharice Osei coming out of the elevator in Hunter North
Sharice Osei, who uses a walker to get around, has to plan her commuting schedule around the limited elevator service in Hunter North.
Photo by Pam Frederick

In Hunter North, the bank of elevators that serve the lower floors only have one working car. There have been times, she said, when even that one elevator was turned off and she had to miss class altogether. Osei said she has complained to the disability office, but all they do, she said, is offer to tell her professors why she was absent.

“I’ve added time to my commute just for the elevators,” said Osei, who comes from Soundview in the Bronx. She has asked friends to carry her walker for her so she can take the stairs, but it is a slow process for her. “I can’t ask them to be late too.”

According to a spokesperson for the college, there are multiple critical infrastructure improvement projects underway and one of the most “vital” is the upgrades to the elevators in the North building. At any given time, at least three of the five elevator cars serving the lower floors are out of service. This project is part of a year-long plan, set to last from fall 2018 through summer 2019.

Signs were recently put next to the elevators to warn students about the inconvenience and encourage them to use the stairs as an alternative. The signs also provide QR codes that link directly to the elevator upgrade information page of the Facilities Management and Planning website for real-time updates. The most recent update, on Oct. 30, stated that elevators B3 and B5 are currently functional but students found that only B5 would arrive.

Elevator sign on the fifth floor of the north building
Signs were placed near several elevators on different floors in the North Building to inform students about the inconvenience.
Photo by Alonso Espinoza

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure that there are always some functioning elevators available in the North Building and to keep students, staff, and faculty informed so they can plan ahead,” said a spokesperson for the college.

There have been requests made on whether it is possible to make the A bank of elevators “local” rather than “express” so that students can use those express elevators to get to the lower floors. Elevators located on the western end of the hallways are only designed to go from C-level up to the third floor, then third floor express to the 10th floor. However, according to the information provided on the Facilities website, the age of the elevator’s technology doesn’t allow technicians to reprogram the elevators to make local stops. One of the goals for this year-long plan is to include the capability of all elevators to stop on all floors.

In the meantime, students will be forced to take the stairs or wait for elevators through this school year.

“We know that this causes challenges and inconveniences for members of the Hunter College community, particularly students who have mobility challenges that necessitate elevator access,” said the spokesperson. “We apologize for inconveniences related to the elevator upgrades and other necessary construction projects, but the end result will be a greatly improved and more accessible campus.”

Use this link to find the latest updates on the elevators in the North Building.

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