Letter to the Editor

I was surprised by the email Jill Beck sent out toward the end of fall term about the new Wellness Center. I was not surprised that they were moving counseling services into the rec center – after all, they needed somewhere to put all of the extra students they didn’t think were going to come to Lawrence.
What was weird was how upbeat Beck was about it. For some reason, it was coming as a great benefit to me that my school nurse was going to be in the same building as my indoor track – I guess just in case running in tiny circles made me sick.
But I would like to call attention to the fact that despite the big WelLU campaign, after months of being completely closed to students, the rec center remains overcrowded and the facilities are lacking now, more than ever, to provide the fitness space important for maintaining mental and physical health, especially during the drudgery that is winter term.
Varsity sports have top priority at the Wellness Center for reserving rooms. Obviously, it is important for LU athletes to have the space they need for training, but teams have the use of the Alexander Gym across the river for exactly that reason. If the facilities over there don’t have the right equipment, by all means, make sure athletes have what they need to train, but allowing teams to take over the gym that should be shared equally with the rest of the student body hardly seems like a good fix.
With the track team on the track every afternoon for two hours, throwing and fencing in the gym during the same time and the baseball team taking over in the later evenings, it doesn’t always feel like sharing is caring, or that there is enough room to share. Intramural basketball, Frisbee, indoor soccer and any other aspiring non-varsity athletes are left to fend for themselves.
The other options for exercise, however, are hardly more inviting. I definitely appreciate the TVs in the cardio room, but they don’t distract me quite enough from the fact that I am in a windowless cave sans daylight. It is a little absurd that with the big move and makeover, there is no new equipment. The same few treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes provide just enough machines for a handful of people to sweat – while the others look for the space that doesn’t exist anymore to do core work.
While I was assured that I would love this big Wellness Center combo, I fail to see the benefit of having less room to workout, other than the fact that I have a few friends who live in the new part of Colman made possible by moving the health center into Buchanan-Kiewitt.
I don’t mean for this to be a dig at any sports team or the athletics department. I am all for sharing space – athletes and non-athletes, gym patrons and doctor’s patients; I just wonder if there’s quite enough space to begin with.
Obviously, Lawrence isn’t going to build a new gym this year or next, but at the very least, I ask that the wellness campaign now begin in earnest. There needs to be a real commitment to encourage all LU students to stay active throughout the school year by letting them use the space provided and working toward much needed expansion – as opposed to cramming the rec center full, reserving it for varsity sports and calling it a job well done.
-Jennifer Compton ’11