By Holly Wentworth
As I said in my last article “Give Me Space,” there is a need for gym-goers to feel comfortable when going to the fitness center, as opposed to claustrophobic. Given the response to the article from various athletes throughout Fitchburg State, this point has gained merit among the student body. Mentioned in that article was talk of a new fitness center being built at the civic center, exclusively for athletes, which helps everyone who uses the gym. This raises specific points about the progress of that project:
What are the reasons for the athletes-only fitness center not being built?
First of all, I asked Sue Lauder, the athletic director at Fitchburg State, if the rumor of the athletes-only gym being built was factual, and she said that it was. According to her, the new fitness center had been a topic with administration for a very long time. In fact, last year, the administration decided that it was finally a good time to start the task. However, as they were constructing the gym, problems occurred.
- Too Expensive
They quickly realized that the floor could not handle the weight of the equipment and such, especially since it was on the second floor. They hoped to move everything to the first floor, but it became a much more expensive job than they anticipated for. This caused the project to come to a halt, and for all construction on the gym to cease. The money for the project is difficult to obtain because more expensive projects are funded by the state of Massachusetts (DCAMM, or Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance)— not the school. Convincing the state that a new gym is essential to the school’s every day operations is difficult for a school of our size, as surrounding schools such as MIT, Boston College, and UMass Dartmouth/Amherst, have a significantly higher attendance rate than Fitchburg.
- Project Urgency
I spoke with Doug Thomas, Director of Capital Planning and Construction, about how construction/renovation projects are funded and completed at Fitchburg State. He told me that he has a list of future projects that all have equal weight in urgency, and that the amount of importance only changes when administration picks what works best in the moment. On occasion he will be working on a project and then have to suddenly stop to do a different project because it’s more crucial at the time according to administration, while the previous project goes back on the list of future projects, while the unfinished project is stuck in limbo for an unspecified amount of time.
- Different Priorities
I also asked Doug Thomas where else the student body’s money is being used, if the new gym is not a priority. He took me all over the campus, and what I learned was that their biggest priority was our safety. The latest projects that have been done are the following: they’ve put in more lights throughout campus, made more handicap accessible walkways, fixed the elevator in conlon, updated the kitchens in Mara Village, made more secure doors, better windows at the Townhouses, and switched to more energy efficient lighting. After talking to many students on campus, several agreed that some of these renovations being done by maintenance/capital planning are going unnoticed. For an example, the second floor at McKay has been recently updated. Any student outside of the Criminal Justice Department may not see those updates because they have no classes there. Students who want the new athlete-only fitness center don’t see the importance of other projects because it doesn’t directly affect their wants/needs, but everyone has different desires for what should be updated on our campus.
To those people wanting the new gym, it is, in fact, on the list of future projects— there just isn’t anything planned in the near future currently. Having said that, things can always change. If enough people sign the Athlete-Only Fitness Center Petition, there will be a change and its urgency may change for the better. An athlete-only gym will help everyone who uses the gym– for athletes and non-athletes. Visit the above link if this is a change that you would like to see happen.