When in doubt, take the elevator: a guide to lifts across campus

There are some horrors all students at the College of William and Mary have to face: Sadler food, astronomical printing fees, Banner crashing during each and every registration period. These tragedies are, sadly, unavoidable. The four-story walk to your GSWS class on Morton’s third floor, however, is not. And it’s all because of a magical little box. No, the College has not installed TARDISes into its buildings, but it has installed something better — elevators.

I know what you’re thinking and I’m going to stop you right there; I am aware that taking the stairs is the healthier thing to do. Walking up stairs gets that heart rate up, squeezes exercise into your busy day, maybe even helps you lose the extra pound (or two) you happily packed on during the last break. My qualm is not with the basic idea of taking the stairs, just with taking them to that third or fourth-floor class.

For many students like me, our schedules leave little wiggle room for a mid-day spurt of exercise on the stairwell. Maybe you have a 10-minute gap between your English class in Tucker and the geology class in Andrews that you’re taking because dinosaurs sound cool. Or maybe you’re a real big fan of sleep and only have 10 minutes to get from your dorm on New Campus to your 8 a.m. Spanish class in Washington. Or maybe you just haven’t found time for the Rec lately and are not in the best of shape. Regardless of the specific circumstance, my fellow sprinters-across-campus and exercise-slackers know that taking the stairs is perhaps one of the worst decisions of your college career.

If you’re one of the many students that choose to live the stairwell life, you’ve been in this situation before: out of breath, slightly pink in the cheeks, suddenly the most fascinating thing in the room. All eyes turn to you (at least in your head), the heavy-breather, the white noise machine, the person who gives off waves of not-so-silent suffering. As you take your seat, you try to stifle your breathing, only making the problem worse by not giving your lungs the room they need (and deserve) to breathe. The class is quiet as the professor fusses with the projector, and you are forced to wait, alone in your pain, for the lecture to finally begin.

All that is required of you is a few seconds of wait, an irrational fear of plummeting to your death and a brief moment of relaxation as you are carried up to your destination.

You might be wondering what the solution to this problem is. How on earth can I avoid this fate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday? I have good news for you. In 1870, the first passenger elevator was installed, paving the way for elevator fanatics ever since. Even better, public buildings with more than one floor are required to meet the American Disability Act’s accessibility requirements — at least one passenger elevator. To elevator aficionados such as myself, the elevator is an obvious, easy, and perhaps even fun solution to the dilemma. All that is required of you is a few seconds of wait, an irrational fear of plummeting to your death and a brief moment of relaxation as you are carried up to your destination. However, I have noticed during my time at the College that some people are not aware of the locations of these wonderful inventions. In order to aid you in your elevator discovery, here are some campus elevators you might not know where to find:

Morton. Beholder of the famous four-floor trek, worst offender of them all. If you’re coming from the path by Jones, bypass the stairs and head toward the main hallway. It’s right by the restrooms, I promise.

Campus Center. Not an academic building, but apparently a mystery to many. Keep going past the info desk and the Dean of Students Office, almost all the way toward the door you never seem to use.

Blow Hall. Due to its structural abnormalities, Blow can be one of our more confusing buildings. I recommend taking the ground-level door on Blow’s front-right corner. From there, ignore the staircase and go through the doorway. Follow the hallway until you pass the Registrar’s office, then keep going some more. The elevator awaits you at the very end of the hall.

Tucker. For such a weird building, this one’s pretty easy. Hang a right at the big staircase in the lobby, then keep turning right into the hallway. The elevator is across from the girls’ restroom.

Washington. Unless you use the back entrance, first climb the unavoidable, oddly steep stairs to the main floor. On the right-hand wall before the door to the stairs sits your relief.

Swem. Yes, I know you know already. But are you aware of the third elevator? Take a left after you pass the writing center. You’re welcome.

So, the next time you find yourself rushing to Morton’s infamous stairwell, pause. Take a left, then a right. Experience for yourself the joy of not entering class embarrassingly out of breath, and press that elevator’s button.

(Except in the case of fire, overcrowding or the inevitable collapse of Morton into a sinkhole.)

Email Naomi Gruber at ncgruber@email.wm.edu.


  1. This is so fun and easy to read. I am not a student, but I have been and appreciate the sentiment. You get bonus points for helping your fellow classmates!

  2. At first I was really excited about this article but then I’m kind of … disappointed.

    The language choice, both in the article and in the caption, particularly the use of the phrase “students who would rather not take the stairs” is very alienating to me as a disabled student. I have a chronic pain disorder and I some days cannot take the stairs??? And I don’t need to be shamed about it, even in an article about how FUN and COOL elevators are.

    The article on the whole is supposed to just be a lighthearted and quirky thing, but it also feels like it’s coming from a perspective of someone who has never had to worry about issues of accessibility.


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