Pushing elevator occupancy over the max
We were the first to live in Sander Hall in 1971. I was an engineering student, and Sander probably never had a chance from the start. When we first moved in, we were told there had been no occupancy permit issued on the building, and through some horseplay, we found out that there has a waterline leak many floors above our 15th floor suite. Having rolled into the wall, it dished in rather easily, and we found the drywall was wet. We also noted that the 26th floor — the one with the great view — had all of its brand new furniture stolen within a few weeks of opening.
We did have a great view. Our suite looked out from the west (narrow) side of Sander, and we could see most of the campus.
The real "story" I remember and retell is when we were returning from lunch one day, we got on the infamous elevators and had a full cab of about 15 people. But because the elevators were not always available, another group of people (jocks!) wanted to make sure they were on for this ascent. All told, another 13 got on (good luck!). I think the elevator was over capacity by about 10. We asked some not to get on, because we knew we would be overloaded, but they didn't want to be separated, so they piled in. “Sardines” was an appropriate comparison.
Well, the elevator started up, and we could tell that this was not going to turn out well. The elevator got to what I would guess was the 12th floor, and the elevator ground to a halt after much straining. We all were a little ticked, because we knew our extra friends were the cause.
Being the jocks that they were, they started feigning being frightened and started yelling that the elevator was stuck, in their best mocking tones. To top that off, some of them started jumping up and down and yelling that the elevator was going to fall. By this time, a few of the original squished passengers were truly scared, so we had to ask our buddies to stop messing around.
Things got quiet, and we actually started to hear the cables stretching, starting with a medium "ding" and then proceeding every few seconds down the scale. By that time things were getting very quiet and very smelly. We waited for about 20 minutes and finally heard another elevator come up beside us.
In a few minutes a firefighter opened a side panel, stuck his head in and said, “Yep, this is the elevator.” He closed the panel, and we didn’t hear anything else from him.
We waited another 15 to 20 minutes, then we started moving up slowly — we figured, by being cranked up manually. When we got to the 14th floor and the doors opened, the floor of the elevator was actually a half a floor below the building floor; the cables had stretched that much!
Most crawled out, and some waited for the elevator to be raised closer to the proper height. I’ll always remember that as a day that a few Darwin Award Winners could have taken another 20 non-participants with them.
Other than that, most of our life was pretty dull. We had the usual mutts in our suite, including one guy, who will not be named, who earned a 0.25 his first arrogant quarter (all F’s and one D). For those who need the “walked both ways uphill, in the snow” perspective, the sexes were separated, and we had to trudge down several floors to meet up with the opposite sex. Eventually the floors, and then the suites, became co-ed, but we were the pioneers.
The following year, I moved off campus to Short Vine where I shared six rooms and two floors of a brownstone with five other people for a total of $16 a month per person. Take that, you whippersnappers!
Robert Mendlein, CAS '74, BS (CAS) '78
Editor’s note: There was certainly an occupancy permit for the building. UC archivist Kevin Grace says the rumor could have started if someone discovered some sort of leftover permit in the building issued during construction, prior to occupancy. In regard to the new furniture disappearing, Grace says, “What I know for sure is that some students helped themselves to moving the furniture from the common area to their own rooms, but that was soon straightened out.”