SGA Begins Push for More Gym Space

Tory Glerum

With Colgate’s ranking by Men’s Fitness magazine as the second most physically fit campus in the nation, it is no wonder that the Student Government Association (SGA) and a group of willing students have begun working to gather administrative support and draft a proposal for a new satellite fitness center on the hill.

After witnessing the lines at the William Brian Little Fitness Center in Huntington Gymnasium and hearing complaints of crowding from other students, SGA President Rob Sobelman and Vice President Jenny Dorland proposed the idea for a new fitness space during their campaign last year. According to Sobelman, the proposal gained support from athletes and non-athletes alike.

“Colgate is a fitness-oriented campus, and building a new facility is crucial in order to meet student need,” Sobelman said. “Students should not be discouraged from healthy behavior due to crowding of the workout facility.”

Sobelman attributed SGA’s late start on the satellite fitness center project this semester to their concentration on the potential changes to Donovan’s Pub.

“Working to improve a space that already exists was a more pressing issue,” Sobelman said.

However, according to SGA Policy Coordinator for Campus Development and leader of the satellite fitness center project sophomore Safwan Shabab, SGA’s efforts are better late than never.

After sending out a campus-wide e-mail alerting students to the project and receiving 15 responses of those interested in helping work out a plan, SGA organized the Satellite Fitness Center Working Group, which had their first meeting this past Sunday under Shabab’s direction.

Sobelman said that the group’s first step will be to define their mission, and then to collect data through some form of a survey to assess student need. If the need is great, SGA will work on drafting a proposal and gathering administrative support for the project.

Due to the direct link between fitness and issues of physical and mental health, SGA is planning to partner with the Wellness Initiative, a campus-wide commitment to provide education and opportunity for personal wellness, in order to pursue the project. The Athletics Department will also be involved, since, according to Sobelman, a new fitness center would provide training resources for student-athletes.

Shabab has also met with Health and Psychological Services to gather their

response to a project that would

potentially encourage healthy behavior by more students on campus.

Shabab said that the group will work to have a report complete by the end of the semester, but due to the late start, such an effort will most likely take until next fall.

“We need to get a consensus representation of the student body and then we will take the next step,” Shabab said. “SGA does not have the executive powers to actually implement the project, but we want to reflect student concerns and provide a feasible plan that is acceptable to the administration and alumni.”

Sobelman said that if the proposal is accepted, funding for the building of the center will need to come through parental support and/or an alumni donation. In addition to construction costs, the necessity of employing a maintenance staff and supervisors and accumulating the proper equipment will also demand significant financial attention.

Sobelman named Lathrop Hall and the basement of Curtis Hall as two possible locations up the hill for a satellite fitness center.

Another issue on the group’s docket is the possibility of expanding the William Brian Little Fitness Center, which becomes especially overcrowded during the winter months. Sobelman confirmed that the Juice Bar, the dining facility currently located outside of the fitness center, would soon be closing for both financial and practical reasons. While financial resources will be directed elsewhere to benefit students, the clearing of the space could provide room for an extension of the current workout facility to include more cardiovascular machines.

Shabab said that SGA is not binding itself to an objective with this project.

“We need to assess what students would like to see, whether that be more than one small gym on campus or a large, concentrated facility,” he said.

Both Sobelman and Shabab said they are looking to gather further student support and input with regards to proposing more fitness space on campus.

“The more students get actively involved, the higher the likelihood of success and the better the outcome,” Sobelman said. “It might be a long process, but the campaign for a new fitness center could quite possibly be the largest project SGA has ever initiated.”