Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

New Recreation Center is a knockout

I’ll admit it. I was pretty mad about the new Recreation Center being delayed a month for vague inspection reasons. But you know what? People got pissed about the new Facebook too. Look at the travesty that turned out to be.

            After actually entering the building and experiencing firsthand what it offers, though, it’s kind of hard to remain angry. It seems, for the first time in a while, a project has been implemented on this campus and has actually met expectations.

            In short, the new Rec Center is freaking awesome.

            The glowing reviews have been pouring across campus since the building opened last Friday. It’s really an impressive facility. It’s almost like it doesn’t belong here. The entire time I was in the Rec Center, the fear in the back of my mind was that Boston University was going to show up and say “Oh, that’s where we left this. Sorry, we’re taking this back.”

            Out of the many projects the University of Massachusetts administration has gone through to improve the campus, this is easily the most successful. Specifically, the Rec Center is going to be a success because it’s all of the things that a lot of people in this area can’t stand (flashy, expensive, a pure luxury). By being that, though, the Rec Center can be what the school really needs: a landmark facility to attract students.

            In a sense, UMass is a campus of good – rarely great. It’s considered a good school academically. The sports teams are good. The food is above average but taken for granted. Sure, the accumulation of good thing after good thing makes this campus a great place, but UMass has always lacked a knockout punch for recruiting students. There’s rarely an aspect of this school that makes a student on a tour go, “Holy crap, that thing’s awesome. I’m so coming here.”

            If it’s really the intention of the administration to bring this school up to the standards of the Boston Colleges of the world, it has to do at least one thing that it can absolutely say it does better. The Rec Center is that thing that the University can just absolutely nail. It’s what can make a high school senior that wants to go somewhere else say “but UMass has that.”

            The new Integrated Sciences Building was cool, but what all non-science majors can really do is walk through the lobby and be jealous while they wallow in Bartlett, Herter or Machmer. The W.E.B. Du Bois library is a nice aspect, but the elevators are terrible and gets old after five tour guides talk about it. The Mullins Center is nice, but can’t consistently serve students.

            While there is an argument that we needed a fitness facility (we already have Totman and Boyden), the truth of the matter remains that those places aren’t good – at all.

            Boyden is always crowded, loud; it’s impossible to get a machine. It’s hot and looks like a sketchy basement. That’s great if you’re doing dead lifts and trying to make the varsity squad, but the athletic program already has an awesome gym in Boyden students can’t use. Totman meanwhile, isn’t a gym. Seriously, take the 30-minute walk over there and look at it. No one wants to work out in a closet with four machines. And by machines, I mean a treadmill, some weights and a bench.

            While it’s a drain on precious funds during a time when the school doesn’t have any, the Rec Center is beneficial to the school in the long run and the campus is better for it. For some, though, it kind of sucks.

            As you may have noticed by the graduate student protests, the Rec Center’s not free for everyone. According to the UMass website, to sign up today, a monthly membership to the facility is over $70 for registration until next September. For an annual membership? Grad students are expected to drop $323.53. If you plan on graduating, ever, that free Rec Center that just popped up is going to be a lot less free. For alumni, an annual membership, is $517.65 to sign up today.

            While that sucks for non-undergrads, the Rec Center was made to cater people from the ages of 17-23. They pay the $20,008 ($31,005 for out-of-state), and they get a free gym and all the cool shiny things.

            Unfair? Not really. College facilities should be marketed in the way that brings the campus the best recruits and servicing those students. That and every school comes around looking for money anyway. You can just say a gym membership is your pledge back to the school. That is, of course, for the small fraction of alumni who live in driving distance of the campus.

            The point is, in the end, that the facility is spectacular and one of the best things that the University has going for it and will be for some time.

            Is it expensive and essentially unavailable for a people outside of the undergraduate population? Perhaps. But that’s part of the allure. It’s the school saying to potential students, “We have this wicked sweet fitness center. Only you and other undergrads get to use it if you come here.”

            I’d buy it.

            Nick O’Malley is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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