March 4, 2020

From the March-April 2020 issue of News & Letters

Detroit—A coalition of students and workers at Wayne State University (WSU) here have been conducting a campaign since November 2019 for the elevators on campus to be repaired.

There are 170 elevators in 130 campus buildings; some are over 50 years old.  Police were called 150 times last year to rescue people trapped in elevators. Additionally, the coalition has received 675 reports about elevators negatively impacting the lives, work, and education of those at WSU.

Classes have been moved from buildings with non-functioning elevators to those with working ones due to complaints that holding classes in buildings with broken elevators is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

AFT-AAUP local 6075, the faculty union, initially filed a grievance over working conditions with regards to elevators for obvious reasons. They later set up a coalition involving members of the IBEW, UNITE HERE, the Operating Engineers, the Teamsters and the UAW. The Wayne State Student Senate and the WSU Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) have also joined the coalition.

The YDSA, of which I am a member, have been flyering and handing out buttons as part of our regular tabling at the Student Center to raise awareness of the poor conditions of the elevators. We also appeared with flyers and buttons to support Professor Hayg Oshagan at the January Board of Governors’ meeting, who told them we want the elevators repaired as soon as possible.

The Board responded with excuses that they are studying the problem, and that there is a shortage of parts and labor to make the repairs.

We are watching carefully what the Board of Governors will do. If the university can find the money to increase administrative costs by $16 million in the last four years, it seems logical that they can find money for elevator repairs. Until then we call on all Wayne State students and workers to join our campaign to #fixtheelevators!

—Hank, WSU Student


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