The College of William and Mary’s Student Recreation Center receives 13,000 to 14,000 visitors on its busiest days, according to Director of Campus Recreation Linda Knight. She noted that 80 percent of students at the College participate in some Rec program, whether it’s exercising in the building’s facilities, going rock climbing, utilizing personal training sessions or participating in group activities from intramurals to sports clubs. Many of these programs come with additional costs.
“Our goal is to keep the fees as low as possible, and keep the activities as low as possible, so we can be an opportunity for anybody who wants to participate in our programs,” Knight said. “Everything we take in just supplements what students already pay.”
Campus Recreation’s club sports program, which offers around 45 different clubs, is popular among students. Each club charges membership dues, but their costs are also supplemented by the Rec. The same applies to intramurals as well; there is a $30 charge per team added to what the Rec already pays for officials. Additionally, the Rec sells passes for fitness classes, which cost between $70 and $75. The passes allow students access to as many classes as they’d like, with 50 options offered each week.
Knight said that other financial options have been considered in the past, such as charging more per student through student activity fees and then not having an additional cost for participating in programs.
“Our concern with that is, if we don’t charge, if everybody chooses to use that, we don’t have the space or the classes, and then you get a lot of dissatisfied students who can’t get the classes — it almost created more of a problem for us to do that,” Knight said.
There are still options open to students who would rather avoid any extra costs. The Rec Center facilities are open for working out and using the machines, and there is no charge for the aquatics or climbing facilities. Knight said the Department of Campus Recreation has made it a priority to keep wellness options as open and affordable to the students as possible.
“My philosophy oftentimes is if a student can’t come here because [the] fees are too high, then I’m really not doing what I need to be doing here,” Knight said. “We’ll spend a lot of money on our programs, but we don’t waste any of it.”
Many students take advantage of the the Rec center. Facilities intern and Old Dominion University graduate student Kelsey Brumfield noted that certain times of day are far busier than others.
“The way the shifts work, for the [student employees], they’re broken up into two or three hours,” Brumfield said. “Consistently, the staff say that the 4-7 shift is the craziest. People are coming in. The machines are all taken. It’s a fight to get a treadmill. When you go in the weight room, it’s packed — you can’t find your own space.”
According to Facility Supervisor Kaitlin Kressin ’15, busy days typically take place at certain points during the year.
“While both August and January are busy with FitWell pass sign-ups, the first six weeks of the spring semester are the worst in terms of sheer volume,” Kressin said in an email. “I think it’s because students have New Year’s Resolutions fresh on their minds, Spring Break is just around the corner, and the first wave of midterms don’t start until mid-February.”
Colleen Leathrum ’15 said she believes that the College’s stressful academic climate impacts Rec Center attendance.
“Everyone is determined to be healthy and work out at the beginning of the semester but goes less regularly when academic work gets harder later in the semester,” Leathrum said in an email.
Patron Services Assistant Paul Solbis ’16 works at the front desk in the evening. “We have basketballs that people can check out, and those’ll all be in use, so that’s an indication of how busy we are then,” Solbis said. “Usually around 7 or 8, it’ll kind of start to quiet down. It definitely has a different feel at different times of the day. I like the evening because it gives me the chance to engage with people, especially when I’m checking in fitness passes, week after week. I start to recognize the regulars.”
Knight makes a point to thank these regular visitors for their active interest and participation in the Rec.
“We provide a quality program,” Knight said. “We’re very good at what we do. But it wouldn’t make any difference if students didn’t want to participate, so we’re really fortunate to have a student body that has bought into recreation as a healthy wellness behavior that they want to participate in.”
Flat Hat News Editor Aine Cain contributed to this article.