Editorials

Editorial: Work out the facilities

By
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Iced-over sidewalks, blistering winds and layers of snow residue spell disaster for any type of outdoor physical activity. In the winter months, exercising often requires flocking to Brown’s gyms, where one can lift weights or run comfortably in a safe environment.

The University has four gyms that students can use: the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center, the Bear’s Lair in Graduate Center and other satellite fitness centers in Emery-Woolley and Keeney Quadrangle.

Since the Nelson opened in spring 2012, it has received terrific reviews from students, with its modern aesthetic, first-rate equipment and pool, as well as its ever-expanding services. The athletic facility has proven so popular among students and community members with memberships that, according to the Department of Athletics’ strategic plan, the University plans to spend $150,000 annually from 2015 to 2019 by way of an equipment replacement plan.

The superlative facilities and attention to detail at the Nelson stand in stark contrast to the increasingly deplorable conditions of the other satellite fitness centers. These facilities are characterized by broken treadmills, ellipticals and bicycle machines, as well as missing weights, and have received little to no attention from the Athletic Department. As there is no permanent staff at any of these locations, it can be days before sanitary towel wipes are replenished or the Athletic Department is informed of broken equipment.

This is not a new issue. A simple stroll through The Herald archives points to “Bears Lair bare without machines” in 2011 or “Satellite gyms lack funding” in 2010.

It is clear that these facilities are often the last item on the Athletic Department’s list of priorities. In fact, none of the satellite gyms are mentioned in the Athletic Strategic Plan — further evidence that the department lacks a coherent strategy to address this chronic problem.

Concerns about the quality or condition of facilities at Brown are often assuaged by pointing to the deficit or a lack of funding. Certainly the Nelson’s construction would not have been possible without the considerable donation of Jonathan Nelson ’77 P’07 P’09 and the additional revenue brought in by community memberships.

For the past five years, however, students have paid an annual $64 recreation fee and been entitled to at least decent, if not impressive, athletic facilities. Properly maintaining these spaces would cost less than adding more machines to the Nelson or constructing new athletic facilities, but it would undoubtedly make a world of difference.

In these bitterly cold Providence days, a trip to the northeast side of campus can be a considerable trek for students interested in working out. But no student should be forced to undertake the journey due to the deficiencies in the closest satellite facilities.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16 and Baxter DiFabrizio ’15. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.