Save the rec center!

By By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

A recreation center is what U students want, but it is not what students will get. Because of a recent decision by the Legislature, the future of the U’s ability to recruit potential students and create cohesive community has been damaged.

On Jan. 26, the Utah State Legislature inadvertently decreed that U students were not responsible enough to decide how their money was spent. Flashbacks of pre-teen years danced in my head.

The Capital Facilities and Administrative Services Appropriations Committee decided in a 5-to-3 vote to deny the bond necessary for the birth of the recreation center. This decision halts plans that have been in motion for the past five years.

Representatives who voted against the bond claim that there was little interest in the rec center-refuting a survey conducted by Rocky Mountain Data in 2004, which found that 67 percent of the student body was willing to pay for the rec center’s construction and upkeep.

Apparently, legislators conducted their own superior survey and found widely different conclusions than Rocky Mountain Data. Who knew our legislative representatives were professionals in survey techniques?

Legislators who voted in favor of the bond supported ASUU representatives, acknowledging that the rec center would complete the college experience on campus. Supporters also recognized that U students were imposing these fees on themselves-that it was our choice to make, not theirs. It’s almost as if they recognize our privilege of autonomy.

Opponents of the rec center claim that current facilities are adequate and meet the needs of students. Regrettably, both the Field House and the HPER complex are below the standards of campuses across the nation, according to Chiveta, a national architecture firm.

If the U is to stay competitive among its peers, a rec center is necessary to compete for the best potential students by offering a superior college experience. Rec centers have been reported to rank fifth out of 21 factors indicating college satisfaction.

Unlike the Field House and the HPER buildings, the rec center would have given students priority in its facilities. In HPER and the Field House, priority is given to athletic teams, classes and professors.

In the rec center, students would have had priority in everything: the pool, the rock climbing wall, the computers, the juice bar and student meeting rooms. In the rec center, students would come first-it would be one building that was truly ours.

Reps. Wayne Harper and Roger Barrus believe that the best way for the U to build a rec center would be privately. That way, only students who use the facility need to pay for it.

These representatives fail to realize that few private entities would be able to handle the start-up costs or provide all the amenities the proposed rec center offers.

The main objective of the rec center was to change the atmosphere of the U to a community and gathering place for students. Instead of a commuter campus, the administration hoped the rec center would increase interaction and learning at the U. If this were to happen, many students would start to consider the U as their home-not just a means to a degree.

The rec center offers more to students than just another weight room. It offers students a community environment, which this university is hurting for. If the Legislature truly has U students’ interests at heart, they will reconsider the administration’s proposal for a recreation center.

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