While students have daily access to the workout room in the Freeman Athletic Center, it is still the case for many that the hours of operation do not fit well with the demands of student life. According to the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA), students have reported feeling unsatisfied with the current schedule, as those with evening classes or T.A. sessions find themselves without enough time to fulfill their academic and personal obligations. In an effort to find a workable solution to this problem, the WSA’s Student Life Committee (SLC) has launched a survey in recent weeks in order to prepare a report for the University’s Athletic Department.
WSA senator and SLC member Pablo Wickham ’21 took up the project in order to support students’ claims with empirical data. He emphasized that to make a convincing case, it is important to be able to present evidence that a shift in or expansion of fitness center hours will satisfy students’ needs not currently being met under the current conditions.
“With this [survey] I can speak more confidently and say that this is something that students really want and based on what I’ve seen so far in the survey, it is something that they really want,” Wikham said. “And with that, I can move forward and further convince those in charge of Freeman to extend these hours. Another thing is that they don’t think people actually use the gym in those hours, and in the survey questions that was a question asked, and the responses have been promising.”
According to Freeman’s website, the fitness center is open weekdays from 6:45 am to 8:45 pm, Saturdays from 8:00 am to 8:45 pm, and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:45 pm. Hours vary during the summer and other scheduled breaks.
Athletic Director Mike Whalen ’83 has not yet been approached regarding the survey. In addition to student concerns, there are also those associated with logistics and cost of labor.
“In addition to hiring more or extending the hours of student workers, it would also require hiring a building supervisor,” Whalen wrote in an email to The Argus. “We also have a cleaning crew who services the building after hours, so that factors in as well.”
Additionally, the Athletic Department is still looking for additional spaces to set up aerobic fitness apparatus. None have been identified yet.
On the survey, students are asked to indicate whether or not they feel they will benefit from extended hours and to indicate which hours, specifically, would be preferable alternatives to the fitness center’s current hours.
The final item addresses one aspect of fitness center use that, according to data collected so far, is often overlooked.
“Do you swipe your WesID each time you use the gym? (Specific to the weight room),” the question reads.
According to preliminary observations by Wickham, it is possible that fewer than half of survey respondents actually swipe their ID cards upon entering the fitness center. As a result, there may be a discrepancy between perceived and actual use of the fitness center during certain hours.
With a relatively high response rate—approximately 500 responses at the time of publication—Wickham hopes that the survey will improve what is already known about fitness center use, which would ideally improve conditions of student life.
“[The survey] has gotten a lot of likes on Facebook,” Wickham said.“I checked the responses today, and 500 persons have responded, which is good. I did not expect that many, but that’s a good sign. The deadline for doing the survey is not yet up, so I’m looking to see more respondents. [I would like to] use this medium to encourage those who have not yet taken the survey to do so. I want to hear their views, because the WSA is the student’s voice on campus, and we speak on their behalf.”
Molly Schiff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.