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WWU Humanities Building elevator’s long-awaited repairs completed

The project’s multiple delays caused hardship for students with disabilities

Photos of the Western Washington University Humanities Building elevator at various stages of repair. // Photos by Xander Johnson 

The repairs on the Humanities Building elevator at Western Washington University were completed on Feb. 8, 2024. The elevator initially broke on June 28, 2023, meaning the elevator was out of operation for over seven months. 

The broken elevator was a barrier to accessibility for some students with limited mobility. Professors’ offices are located on the upper floors of the Humanities Building, and the nearest accessible restroom during the repairs was in the neighboring building, Fraser Hall. 

The lack of an accessible restroom posed an issue for Grace Lagorio, a fifth-year senior Western student with a seizure disorder. When Lagorio would sense a seizure coming on while in the Humanities Building, she would use the elevator to get to a private area in the women’s bathroom on the third floor. 

“On the first day going into classes, I felt blindsided by the fact that the elevator didn’t work and that my game plan for what to do if I have a seizure wouldn’t work either,” Lagorio said. “I had to jump through a lot more hoops to get to a safe space, so I didn’t have the proper accommodations to feel safe in class with my disability.”

Students were not the only ones frustrated at the slow speed of the elevator repairs. Many faculty members were in the same boat. 

“It wasn’t uncommon for one of my professors to bring all of her supplies down and then be like, ‘Oh, I forgot one little thing,’” Lagorio said. “Then she’d have to climb up and come back down two flights of stairs to go get a little thing, which obviously cuts into class time.”

Hope Stoddard, a graduate teacher’s assistant in the English Department at Western, faced accessibility challenges as a part-time cane user. 

“It was extremely frustrating, especially during the fall quarter as a brand new grad TA teaching my first class,” Stoddard said. “Not only is the building not accessible for me because I work on the third floor, it’s also not accessible to any of my students.”

Billy Walker, the auxiliary maintenance supervisor for Facilities Development and Operations at Western apologized for the hardship that the repair process caused for disabled students and staff.

“We’re greatly troubled by the fact that this has caused impacts to students and staff who have disability issues,” Walker said. 

The repair completion date was pushed back from Dec. 29, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2024, and then again to February 2024. The delays were due to various issues with the scheduling of the survey crew, specialized drilling contractor and other additional vendors, Walker said. 

“The way things are with construction companies, specifically elevator service companies, there’s only so many and they’re very specialized trades,” Walker said. “We were kind of at their mercy, which was unfortunate.”

Walker said that if there was anything he could have done to speed up the process, he would have. 

“Elevators are complicated machines. The repairs aren’t always easy and this was a major repair,” Walker said. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”

Xander Johnson

Xander Johnson (he/him) is a campus news reporter for The Front. He is majoring in Public Relations/Journalism. In his free time, he hosts a radio show at KUGS FM, goes hiking with friends, and loses track of time reading books. Xander can be reached at

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