Fitness facilities should prioritize students

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We recognize the privilege afforded to us with the installation of the new facilities and the completion of the New Frontiers project. We do not take it lightly. However, at this point, the school has all but outsourced its athletic facilities, turning them into ASL’s mini-leisure center, subsequently making the students paying customers.

Over the course of this year, it has become apparent that the management of the school’s new facilities fails to focus on the development, health and wellbeing of its students.

This issue is evident through various rigid regulations that hinder a student’s ability to use school facilities. A primary example of this is the availability of the fitness and aquatics center. Students have free access to the fitness and aquatics center before school from 6:30 – 8 a.m. and after school from 3:15 – 5:45 p.m. on school days. If students, faculty or members of our community wish to use the facilities later in the evening or on the weekends they must either be an ASL fitness member, costing £20 a month for students under 19 and £40 a month for adults, or pay a £5 pay-as-you-go fee. Along with the fee required to use the fitness and aquatics center, students wishing to use the blue gym for various reasons, must also pay that cost.

We won’t deny that the school has managed to hire a highly qualified and capable group to monitor and operate the aquatic and fitness center; this editorial is not about them. This is a call to reorganize the system.

Throughout the day, there is a team hired to supervise the aforementioned facilities. In the past, students have been restricted from using facilities due to a lack of supervision; however, as an Editorial Board, we question when there is adequate staff and supervision why student use is still restricted. Given the high tuition costs and generous donations to support this school, it seems almost greedy to extract even more money from its students and community members.

We understand that in order for the facilities to be open at this time, the school must hire more people, which costs money. That economic principle is not lost on us. It baffles us though that the school can’t manage, with its sizable income, to open these facilities free of charge to students.

At the forefront of the school’s initiatives, specifically the use of these facilities, should be the benefit of students at the school, as was their original purpose Director of Operations Jim Heynderickx said. Otherwise, it sets a dangerous precedent that the school could turn any other facilities they deem outside the educational purview into a pay-as-you-go scheme.

These restrictive rules also apply to the blue gym, which was not part of the New Frontiers initiative. The only new costs to that space were to replace the floor twice because of mismanagement of water leaks. Yet, students must still pay to use it. Before implementing this cost scheme the school told students they could not use these areas because it was impossible to correctly ensure their safety without a person being in the same space as them.

They argued that for sake of liability, CCTV would not do. Now that students are paying and there is someone “accountable” for any insurance risks, the school is fine using CCTV to supervise students. Putting liability and expenditure ahead of student seems just a little shallow.

Students should be first and foremost in gaining access to the facilities. We should not be viewed as customers, but rather the administration should take into account what these facilities were built for in the first place: student use and growth.

 

Cartoon by Gaby Iwegbue