Elevator Drop in Brookdale Sparks Distress Amongst Students

By: Atara Bachrach  |  October 10, 2021

By Atara Bachrach, Website Manager

Another elevator-related incident occurred this week on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 in Beren Campus’s Brookdale Residence Hall. At approximately 10 PM, the elevator was on its way up when it unexpectedly dropped two stories from the 5th floor down to the 3rd floor. 

Rivka Bennun (SCW ‘24) recounted her shock regarding the situation. “I’m really grateful I wasn’t alone,” she said. “If my friends hadn’t been there to push me out of the elevator as soon as it stopped moving I probably would’ve just stood there frozen and not known what to do.” 

While no one was hurt, this incident is not the first of its kind. When a similar malfunction took place in May 2019 where the elevator dropped abruptly by four stories, the student inside was left sustaining a severe concussion. Following the event, YU’s Chief Facilities & Administrative Officer, Randy Apfelbaum, assured students in August 2019, saying, “The safety of our students is of utmost priority… YU has been making significant investments in building infrastructure… Over this past summer, every elevator has received an upgrade to its door locking mechanism.” Since then, however, the elevators on campus have continued to act up in various ways, from trapping students inside and getting stuck between floors to complete shut-downs. 

One student (SCW ‘23), who wished to remain anonymous, described an instance in early September of this year during which the lights began to flicker on and off and “the elevator began to go up and down with no way to stop it or control it.” The student tried to use the emergency brake and contact security but received no response. “Panic took over and I just closed my eyes, hoping against hope that someone would come and do something,” she explained. “Eventually, the elevator stopped… I ran out, panting, and rushed up the stairs to my dorm. It was one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had.” The anonymous student elaborated on her experience, saying, “I remember feeling helpless, not just because no matter what I tried the elevator just wouldn’t stop moving, but because no one was coming to help. The emergency phone went on ringing with no one picking up on the other end. Not only was I in a dangerous situation, I was completely alone.” 

Despite the university’s attempts to alleviate the panic, unease surrounding the administration’s seeming disregard for its students is on the rise. In an anonymous comment to the YU Observer, one member of the YU community stated, “It’s time we’ve recognized that they don’t prioritize our safety and as students, we need to come together and pressure the school into prioritizing us.” 

The sense of helplessness incited by these scenarios seems to be developing into a common trend, rapidly spreading across the student body at YU. Students across both campuses find themselves feeling frustrated and are beginning to question the school’s level of care for their safety and well-being. One Wilf student (YC ‘23), who wished to remain anonymous, revealed to the YU Observer, “while I understand that fixing elevators might not be at the top of the list of priority for the institution, it’s little things like that [which] really show what level of care [it] has towards its students. So when we see things like the elevators failing, or the elevators just not working for multiple months on end, it does make you have to wonder a little bit where the focus is by the institution’s standards.”

In response to these events, Apfelbaum commented to the YU Observer on October 7, 2021, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our community, and, as of today, the elevator has been serviced and is cleared for normal use. We will continue to work with Schindler [the elevator manufacturing company] to make sure our elevators are in good working order.” Regarding incidents such as these, students should direct any questions and concerns to Kylene Planer, Associate Director of Operations in Residence Life, at kylene.planer@yu.edu.