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COLUMN: USU needs the Aggie Rec Center Words from the Wise

Words from the Wise

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 14:02


For over a year a committee of students, faculty and staff, representing all the university's interests, have been evaluating the need to improve USU recreation facilities. Because USU Administration is committed to responding to student initiatives on this important project, President Stan Albrecht and vice president of Student Services, James Morales, recognized the authority of ASUSU Executive Council to bring this vote to the students.

If the project is approved, students will continue having a voice during the facility's planning and design stages through representation on a working committee.

In the absence of a dedicated student recreation facility, recreational space has been carved out in the current academic facilities — the Fieldhouse, constructed in 1939 and the HPER Building, constructed in 1972. This situation has led Campus Recreation to share space with intercollegiate athletics and academic classes, causing scheduling issues, overcrowding and reduction in services to students.

For example,  "drop in" recreation use by students in the Fieldhouse has been steadily increasing. Students accessed the Fieldhouse 58,988 times fall semester of 2008. This number increased to 100,903 by fall semester of 2011. This is a 71 percent increase. These numbers do not include students who access the HPER building or Outdoor Recreation Program.

Concerning structured Campus Recreation programs, this year intramurals will have served about 1,080 less students due to space conflicts and loss of outdoor playing fields.  This is in comparison to the average 5,000 students who were able to participate in intramurals over the three previous years.

These numbers are indicative of the space conflict issues experienced by Campus Recreation's 13 club sport teams, and the hundreds of students that participate in the Fun, Fit, Forever and aquatics programs in Campus Recreation.  

Additionally, Campus Recreation administers the Outdoor Recreation Program. Last year Campus Recreation hired True Blue Public Relations, a student-led public relations team, to identify what USU students know about the ORP, as well as what they want and need from the program. The results demonstrated the ORP's lack of visibility on central campus was the primary reason many USU students did not take advantage of ORP services.

Many of USU's peer institutions have had similar problems related to a lack of centralized indoor and outdoor space for programmed and open recreation. Over the past 15 years, most, if not all, of our peer institutions have addressed these issues by building dedicated student recreation facilities.

The proposed Aggie Recreation Center and Legacy Fields would provide students with facilities comparable to those found at other universities of similar size and character throughout the country. USU's peer institutions reported the new recreation centers "turbo-charge" recruitment, retention and student success at their respective institutions. All indications suggest USU will experience the same benefits.

On Feb. 29 and March 1, USU students will vote on two projects that can mitigate the issues and conflicts mentioned above, and make USU one of the premier student life oriented institutions in the country. These two projects are the Aggie Legacy Fields and Aggie Recreation Center.

The proposed Aggie Legacy Fields will replace the existing HPER fields with artificial turf playing fields, and include a lighting system. The key features of the Aggie Legacy Fields will include durable, latest-generation, artificial turf — one collegiate soccer field, two regulation flag football fields, two regulation softball fields, multi-lined fields for lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee, a one-third mile jogging path with water-efficient landscaping, and lights for nighttime use that utilize dark-sky compliant light fixtures.

The proposed Aggie Recreation Center would provide USU students with a dedicated recreation facility that would not be shared with academic classes or intercollegiate athletics. The facility has the potential to offer drop-in recreation, outdoor equipment rentals, and house lap and leisure pools, a climbing wall and various fitness activities from early morning to late evening. The ARC would be a modern, signature building that presents USU's campus as vibrant and active.

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