There is a certain beauty to attending a university that places so much emphasis on the process of democracy. At the University of Massachusetts, students are often given a voice in changes that affect their tuition and experience on campus. This past December, students voted on a referendum for an increase in the Student Activity fee from $65.50 per semester to $115.50 in light of renovation of the Student Union. Although the UMass student referendum was at a march larger scale, students should have the right to provide input on University decisions that affect the use of their tuition.
In the fall of 2009, the $50 million dollar Recreation Center opened to all of campus, creating a new era of fitness and health opportunities to Amherst. The three-level space, 120,000 square-foot structure includes a three-court gymnasium, jogging track, locker and shower facilities, three multi-purpose rooms, a wellness center, office space for intramural and club sports including baseball, crew, cycling, fencing, ice hockey, rugby, lacrosse, volleyball and wrestling. The building also offers a courtside cafe and a nutrition advising center. The advisors as well as employees clearly put a focus on making the gym an integrative and dual-purpose experience. Classes of all levels are offered and equipped with an electronic system that allows students to sign up from the convenience of their mobile phone.
There is an extensive lineup of cardio machines. These include about 46 treadmills, 28 elliptical trainers, 26 bikes (both upright and recumbent), 15 spin bikes, five rowing machines, four arc-trainers, four wave machines, three stair masters and one summit trainer. In addition, there are 35 selectorized pieces, 70 plate-loaded equipment pieces with 448 new weight plates, 178 dumbbells and two plyometric areas with stretching mats.
These numbers do sound abundant when listing them off. However, once you add 21,374 undergraduate students not including staff members, family or graduate students, they are no longer substantial enough to withstand the large amount of gym rats. Unfortunately, recreation machines are expensive and distributing the Recreation Center’s funding has many obstacles, I can imagine. Fellow students agree that the Recreation Center staff is very receptive when machines need maintenance, or when squat racks are broken. The management team is consistently present, maintaining the cleanliness of the building as well as addressing people who need help.
Just like in situations with the Student Referendum, tuition hike and language requirement amendments, students should be allowed to give input to an extent on how the Recreation Center distributes its funding. I recognize that to allow students to be involved in every process would be ineffective and slow. But, if given a slight window in the decision making when it comes down to new machines, students could vote on where more funding is needed. For example, many students I have spoken with strongly agree that instead of new treadmills, additional Stairmasters would better suit the gym crowd.
The Recreation Center is home to the University’s beloved gym goers, class takers, avid cyclists and many more. If the center was open to the students’ input, the feedback could serve as an important medium for making a better experience for both students and Recreation Center employees. As former UMass Chancellor Robert Holub said, “This is a wonderful, bright place to get fit, hang out and have fun. Fitness supports the development of a strong and clear mind, and our new Recreation Center represents a great addition to the campus community. It demonstrates our commitment to provide an excellent experience both inside and outside the classroom for our high-caliber students.”
Morgan Reppert is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]