The University of Connecticut’s current recreation center will close on June 28 and its new one will open on Aug. 25, leaving a nearly two-month gap without a functional gym at UConn’s Storrs campus.
A sign announcing the closure of the current gym is on its front door, according to educational psychology graduate student Lauren Dougher, who said she saw the sign when she visited the gym on May 23.
“Upon reading the ‘Summer Hours’ sign...I saw the very small print at the bottom of the large poster that stated when the old rec would close and the new one would open, with a nearly two-month gap in between,” Dougher said.
UConn Recreation executive director Cynthia Constanzo said she made the decision to close the current rec center on June 28 in consultation with others working on the move management schedule.
“The move management schedule for the new student recreation schedule is not only comprehensive but time consuming. The schedule includes a phased approach of accepting delivery for the new equipment as well as coordinating moving the current equipment to the new student recreation center,” Constanzo said. “Moving equipment includes breakdown of the equipment in the current recreation center and then set up of the equipment in the new center.”
Constanzo said the decision to close the old gym on June 28 was made because it will be empty once the current equipment is moved to the new gym.
“Although we regret any interruption to our ability to provide our services, we believe that the brief interruption resulting from our temporary closure is unavoidable,” Constanzo said. “Our professional staff is fully committed to work diligently through the summer recess period to ensure that we are appropriately prepared to open the new Student Recreation Center on Aug. 25 as we celebrate the grand opening.”
Dougher said she was “in disbelief” when she saw that there would be no rec center for most of the summer, saying she was looking forward to using it at a time of year when it would be less crowded.
“I thought that it was common sense that after academics (obviously), one of the most important things to the student body is a functioning gym,” Dougher said. “Apparently the administrators here do not recognize this, or if so, blatantly chose to ignore it. I understand there are many moving parts to this process that I am not privy to, but the sheer lack of communication between the school and student body is unacceptable.”
In addition to Dougher, JD Tamucci, a graduate student in the molecular and cell biology department, also said he is upset UConn students will not have a gym available to them this summer.
“It’s totally understandable that they have to close the old gym to move equipment and set everything up in the new gym, but I think it’s unfortunate that it also means faculty, staff and students spending time at UConn for the summer are then left without a gym,” Tamucci said. “People with transportation may buy gym memberships elsewhere but that’s not an option for everybody.”
Tamucci said to help alleviate the issue, he wishes the university would make some of the smaller athletic facilities on campus, such as the Hawley Armory or the basketball and football training facilities, open to students.
“It’d be nice if those were opened to students for the summer months, just until the new gym opens, at which time they’d be again restricted to team practices,” Tamucci said.
Dougher and Tamucci both said the lack of gym access has caused them to re-evaluate their plans for working out over the summer.
“I waver between ‘I’ll have to find a new gym’ and ‘I guess I’ll just run all summer,’” Tamucci said. “For what it’s worth, I’m considering a membership at either Cardio Express or the Hawley Armory. That would largely depend on cost.”
Dougher said she will not open a gym membership, as her being a graduate student often disqualifies her from student discounts and she cannot afford a full price membership.
“I will have to find more cost effective ways to exercise, such as running or swimming in a friend’s pool,” Dougher said. “If I had known about the gym closure before making my decision to stay at UConn this summer, I would have definitely weighed my other options more heavily based on affordable/free access to a gym facility.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.