Fixed! But Sabotage May Have Caused Escalator Failure.


By now, the Huntsman escalator debacle will have receded to a distant memory, as with all things unnoticed when working properly. While most 2nd Years grew increasingly irritated by the situation, 1st Years have now become used to life without it, and the WGA even briefly considered mandating the 1st Years to continue to use the stairs. William Wang, a 2nd Year, stated “The broken elevator is a nuisance, but you realize that life goes on…so I just bypass the barrier tape and walk up AND down the escalator”. As more and more students realized where the stairs were even located, they calmed down a bit. “I don’t think it’s a big deal that the escalator is broken. Once I realized the stairs are right there it’s been a nice excuse for a little extra exercise” said Arianna Nobles (WG ’13).


But still, some could not adjust to the changes in routine; Anna Zhang (WG ’13) was “so distraught by that broken escalator that it has made me miss all my classes on the second and third floor of Huntsman. I hope my professors can accurately attribute my absences to that broken escalator (rather than recruiting events).”  Rumors have even surfaced that this catastrophic event influenced the final rounds of the auction as students unloaded JMHH classes in favor of SHDH and Vance Hall.


The Wharton Journal spoke with Wharton Operations and the WGA Executive Director of Facilities, Adam Barth (WG ’13) to get the real story.  According to Wharton Operations Senior Director, Maria O’Callaghan-Cassidy, “during the last week of pre-term it appears as though an open water container was dropped down the escalator.  As luck or lack thereof would have it – the water shorted the central processing unit.  This part is proprietary and is in the process of being manufactured in Germany.”


ETA for the new part was originally 5-8 weeks at the time of the order, indicating a serious lead time miscalculation.    Wharton Ops further explained that they attempted to keep the escalator open but not operational, but the OSHA rep for the University instructed the service provider to triple barricade the unit since the steps do not meet International Building Code sec. 1009.3 and Federal ADA regulations.


Ms. O’Callaghan-Cassidy elaborated “An escalator consultant has been retained by University Facilities to evaluate not only the condition of escalator #11 that went down but all of the JMHH escalators.”  (Editor’s Note: At the time of printing, we had still not determined if Escalator Consulting is considered a mature industry).


As part of this process, Wharton Ops has also requested that an updated parts stock list be generated.  Maria also stated that there is some question now as to what caused the central processing unit to fail, although water damage was noted.


Wharton Operations will look to University Facilities and Real Estate Services, their escalator vendor and the consultant’s report to investigate further and provide a formal report. Quality Elevator, recently acquired by KONE Inc., is the University maintenance vendor for escalators and elevators on campus, their contract is managed by University Facilities and Real Estate Services.


Throughout this harrowing saga, the Wharton Journal gathered the most interesting rumors surrounding this case, and we’ll leave to you to judge which ones are true:

– This particular escalator distinguishes itself from the others, as it was the only one designed by University of Chicago students, while all the others are Penn Engineering  work.

– It took so long to fix as the employees responsible for its maintenance work on the Forum Floor and were not affected by the problem

– The escalator is in fact not broken, but rather a prank by ABP employees on their way out: they simply unplugged it and put up barriers, and took all the mustard packets too

– A Wharton Health Program strategy to fight obesity among students: they analyzed data from the previous 1 year and decided that by forcing most students to use the stairs they would lose an average of 3.72 pounds / student / semester! (SD of 4.21 pounds)

– A disgruntled OPIM professor, enraged over the 50% reduction in OPIM classes from the Fixed Core, poured a water bottle into the escalator and shorted the central processing unit, while screaming “This will teach them to care about bottlenecks!”



“Since we haven’t had the escalator for some time, I got used to going directly to the stairs after entering Huntsman Hall. I hardly even remember the escalator is an option anymore” –  Andre Izecson de Carvalho WG ‘13


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