By Danny Priest
SPRINGFIELD — Students at Springfield College have come back to campus for the start of the spring semester and have begun to establish their daily routines for the second half of the academic year.
One change that was implemented on campus over break was the Wellness Center hours have changed and the facility now closes at 10 p.m. every night of the week.
Prior to winter break, the Wellness Center had been open until 11 p.m. every night of the week, except for Friday and Saturday.
This decision to change the hours was met with mixed reaction from members of the student body.
Damien Rabis, a freshman in the exercise science major and a member of the football team, felt the early closing was a negative thing.
“The gym closing an hour early is a little bit of an inconvenience. Not only for me, but I guess for other people, because of how busy other people’s schedules are and how different it is,” he said. “You know, sometimes there’s only [certain] hours of the day where you can workout. I still think they should keep it how it was and not close it an hour early.”
Kevin Gaiss, a junior in the communications/sports journalism major, expressed understanding for the decision on the behalf of Campus Recreation and the benefit it has for student workers. But he also sympathized with those students who depended on a later time frame to go to the gym.
“I feel for both parties in the sense that if I were a student working at the desk, I personally would not want to be working their until 11 [p.m.], because I know that they can’t do homework while they are there. They can’t be on their phones, they can’t be on their laptops, I think they are allowed to study or look at notes, but they can’t really do much,” he said.
“So if they’re working the 6 to 11 [p.m.] shift or whenever it switches over, that’s some prime time to eat and do homework. That’s a tough time to be working, so I feel for them on that one,” he added.
While Gaiss understood the thought process of the decision, he also sided with his fellow members of the student body who have the gym as part of their routine.
“Some people that I know personally rely on that [9 to 11 p.m.] chunk of time, where there’s that time to lift,” he said. “You cut that in half, all of the sudden they’re rushing through, they can’t workout some days, and for a lot of people they’re like, ‘Eh, what the heck, why bother?’”
Despite what some students may be concerned about, Springfield College’s Director of Campus Recreation/Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs David Hall was able to address the concerns and explain what went into this decision and why it will be beneficial moving forward.
Hall explained that research showed hardly any students were using the gym in that time slot to begin with.
“The most recent thing we did was we looked at last semester from September 1 until now, the participation from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m,” Hall explained.
“We average 3.3 people per that hour. Obviously, you can’t have three and a half people, but that’s the average. Essentially we’re open for an hour where three to four people are using the building, and three to four people are working in the building,” he added.
According to Hall, the gym is closing earlier due to the attendance rate and the fact that it’s not an efficient use of resources to be open during such a sparsely populated hour.
The hour being taken off is not going to mark the end of late night events, such as intramurals and other activities that students are accustomed too.
“What we do, and what we still do, is intramurals still go on until 11 o’clock, we still have occasional special events or late night events that will go on later than that, and then we have certain other events that we work on with Athletics and using the facility that will occasionally be open,” Hall explained.
The time change also comes at the same time as the second floor of the gym being refurbished with all new equipment available for students to use at their leisure.
Students who worked at the Wellness Center have been training for the implementation of the new equipment and the time that would have been filled in the 10-11 p.m. hour are now being switched over to extra supervision in that new area and in the Field House.
“The new equipment we have on the second floor is going to take 12 different orientations, and extra supervision on that floor for people, because they’ve never used it before and they need to have additional safety and folks up there for that reason,” Hall said.
Since the Field House is a heavily used area, it is a more valuable use of resources to have students monitoring there, versus working the 10-11 p.m. hour at the Wellness Center.
“Last semester we started supervising the Field House a little bit more closely, because we have lots of activities in the Field House earlier in the day, where lots of things are going on between Athletics and Recreation,” he said. “Storage rooms are open, back doors are open, expensive equipment is being used and we knew that we needed to pay closer attention to all of that as well.”
Essentially the decision to close the gym at 10 p.m. each night of the week came down to efficiency and use of resources.
While the reasoning is rational, some students were frustrated by the lack of communication regarding this change taking place.
“There was no email, there was no information given out. They [Campus Rec.] did not give any warning, they didn’t tell anyone,” Gaiss said. “I was in there at like 9:45 p.m. and someone came around, and you could tell he was uncomfortable walking up to all these people and being like, ‘Hey, we’re closing in 10 minutes, you gotta leave.’”
Hall pointed to the past when the gym hours were changed and posted online, and said there was never any negative feedback about a lack of communication.
“We changed the hours back on the weekends last semester and didn’t hear anything about it. We’ve extended hours on the weekend, which I don’t even know if people know that, but we now open at 9 a.m. as opposed to 12 p.m. on the weekends,” he said.
He also added that the facility is still open more frequently than it ever has been, despite the removal of the 10-11 p.m. block.
“The facility is still open more hours than it’s ever been open, because of how we do things, also during the Saturday/Sunday hours where it’s been extended three hours, and that’s been going on for over a year,” he said.
The bottom line is the change of closing at 10 p.m. is here to stay. The trade off of the time change will be new equipment and a schedule that matches the times when the gym is most populated according to Campus Rec’s data.
“We pay very close attention to the data and who uses the facility and when, and we want to be open at the times when people are willing to use the facility,” Hall said. “Which is why we’re doing what we’re doing on the weekends and why we have now some extra staff on with the new equipment, because we think that’s going be a big hit.”
*Note: Next week the student will be running a story profiling the new equipment on the second floor and what features are to be expected to come with it.
Photo courtesy of Gage Nutter