This past weekend, a Martindale Hall elevator crashed with a student inside. On the evening of March 12, Sean Bledsoe ’26 entered the elevator on the basement level, traveling up to the third floor with another student. His companion exited and the doors shut behind him, when instead of continuing to the fourth floor, the elevator began to slowly descend, with Bledsoe still inside.
“It slowly started going down, slower than usual,” Bledsoe said. This slow descent continued until the first floor. “Once it got past the first floor, it just fell.”
After the rapid drop and impact from one floor, Bledsoe was trapped inside the cabin, with the doors not opening for several minutes, eventually releasing him into the basement.
While Bledsoe escaped unscathed, the incident left an impression.
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty freaking scary. I haven’t used the elevator since then.”
This is far from the first major building malfunction at Martindale. The elevator crash is not even the first one this semester, considering the flood that occurred soon after students returned from winter break. Campus Services has been in and out of the building, attending to various concerns, including those about the elevators. However, the elevators may be a recurring issue.
“We have somebody come to fix it, then the next day it’s sounding weird or making unusual stops, just not working properly,” Bledsoe said.
Martindale RAs weighed in with their perspective. Nikolai Jones ’24 felt unprepared to deal with a situation like this.
“There was no protocol, which was the most concerning thing,” said Jones. “At other private schools, there’s so much training and bureaucracy, which seems redundant, but it serves a purpose in times like these.”
Jones reflected on the role of autonomy for residential leadership at Wabash.
“That’s something we actually pride ourselves on,” Jones said.
Instead of extensive training for various situations and challenges they may encounter in the position, new RAs feel that they receive minimal guidance from administration, often just a brief rundown from Associate Dean of Students Marc Welch ’02 at the beginning of the year.
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty freaking scary. I haven’t used the elevator since then.”– Sean Bledsoe ’26
“It’s reminiscent of the Gentleman’s Rule, but also highlights some of its shortcomings too,” Jones said.
The other major concern from the independents and RAs is transparency with Campus Services and administration.
“Communication could be better,” Jones said. Regarding ongoing maintenance in Martindale, Jones feels that he has had difficulty getting clear information.
“I emailed Campus Services to ask for a rundown, and no one ever got back to me,” added Jones. “As an RA, I feel obliged to be able to at least provide information to my residents.”
Speaking with The Bachelor, Campus Services contested the characterization of the incident as a “crash.”
Still, the students are hopeful for the future of independent housing.
“I hope this event makes the higher-ups on campus more aware of student safety, especially in the dorm rooms,” Bledsoe said. “I think that this incident, with student safety being involved, should make the higher ups take a more thorough look at the elevators to see if they are functioning properly.”