Going up and down around campus

Daily Pennsylvanian
February 1991
Life has its ups and its downs.

But some of its ups and downs are slower than others.

Whether they're the ones in the McNeil Building, or the Franklin Building, or the Nursing Education Building or the infamous ones in the high rises, elevators are a part of life on campus.

They can also be one of the biggest hassles of life on campus.

Sometimes they can be downright traumatic.

"I remember one night in particular when an elevator really wrecked my plans," one student, who requested anonymity, said last week. "My girlfriend and I were making out in the Rooftop Lounge and we were . . . well, we weren't completely dressed. Suddenly the elevator doors opened and we fumbled to get our clothes back on. Talk about ruining a mood . . . no one even got off."

Rarely, however, do elevators on campus leave such scars. Most of the time, they're just a pain in the neck. And according to most accounts, they don't mix well with alcohol.

"One night, when I was a student here, I went to a party at a friend's apartment in one of the high rises," Andy Shahan, who works at the South Campus Residence Office, said this week. "I got really drunk and the rest of the people at the party stripped me down to my underwear and left me in the elevator. I just kept going up and down all night until I woke up the next morning with about fifteen people standing around staring at me."

"I'll definitely never forget that night," Shahan added.

Most of the time elevators are not the scene of funny stories, however.

Most of the time they are just uncomfotable to be in. Everyone knows the feeling. You press the button. You wait. The doors open. You enter the cubicle, and then . . . the world stops.

People stop talking. Nobody moves. Everyone seems to gravitate to the furthest reaches of the chamber. To ensure no eye contact, all eyes fix on the numbers above the door as each lights up . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .

Comedian Steven Wright once said that he doesn't mind the feeling of being squashed in an elevator because his grandfather used to take him into a closet and force him to stand silently for hours with the door closed. This, his grandfather explained, was "elevator practice."

But most people have never had elevator practice. For most, it's a very awkward feeling. Every once in a while, however, someone breaks the silence. But that can be even more awkward.

"I was on one of the elevators in the high rises one day when this girl gets on and says, 'Don't you feel like we should be singing elevator songs or something?' " said Wharton sophomore Mike Dinerman. "She was really weird."

There are, of course, some elevators that are worse than others. Resoundingly, people said the high rise elevators are the worst. Some maintain that it is faster to walk up 21 floors than to take the elevators.

But what about the best elevators on campus?

"The Steinberg-Dietrich elevator is the best because you can see where you're going and you can see where you've been," said Wharton sophomore John Kraska.

Wharton sophomore Dinerman agreed that the Steinberg-Dietrich lift is the best, but for a different reason.

"I like the elevator in Steinberg-Dietrich because you can look down on the nude statue with its hands in front of its genitals," he said.

But the Wharton building's elevator is not an unanimous choice for best elevator on campus.

College and Wharton senior Sue Moss said she downright dislikes it.

"I don't like the company [of Wharton students]," Moss said this week.

And some say that even the dreaded high rise elevators are their favorite.

"It has to be a toss-up," College junior Scott Copperman said of his favorite elevator. "I like the ones in High Rise South because I live on the 23rd floor and I would hate to have to walk up that many flights of stairs every day."

"But, I also like the one in DRL because I'm brain-fried after math so I figure that it's my right to use the elevator," he added.

But, on the whole, the high rise elevators are almost universally disliked.

"I suspect that this school is too cheap to get more than two elevators working at the same time in the high rises," College and Wharton sophomore Tom Roberts said this week. "That's why we have to wait around for them so long."

Others feel it is not the University's fault at all. Some blame the riders.

"What really drives me nuts is when people get on and push two or three and they're not even carrying any bags or anything," Wharton sophomore Kraska said. "That just slows everyone else down."

But Copperman said he felt blaming the riders was unfair.

"I think people really over-react in the express elevators," he said. "I've seen a lot of students who sigh and make faces at people who get off at low floors and I think that's kind of childish."

Many students in the high rises purposely avoid the elevators altogether by getting rooms on low floors.

"Living on the second floor is great because you don't have to wait around for an elevator if you need to get to class in the morning," said College Sophomore Deb Enegess. "An elevator never seems to be there when you really need one."

Other hated lifts include the disastrously slow elevators in the Chemistry Building and the McNeil Building.

But Copperman said he finds the elevator in the Graduate School of Education to be his least favorite on campus.

"The elevator in the GSE building is the worst because there are only three floors so you're not on it long enough to feel any sensation of movement," he said.

Kristen Weiss
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