Lyon Center needs renovation
Who else is looking forward to a new state-of-the-art digital media production facility, complete with new locker room, academic center, weight and meeting rooms to replace the less-than-desired Lyon Center? Hold that excitement — that is, if you are merely a student on campus, rather than a participant in one of USC’s 21 athletic programs. Costing upward of $70 million, the new Heritage Hall Student Athletic Center is a monument that has not gone unnoticed by USC students: those not a part of the athletic program, many of whom pay full tuition.
This is not to discredit our wonderful athletes by any means, but complaints about the less-than-great experience of the Lyon center are common, as are conversations about its failure to measure up against other Pac-12 schools’ gyms.
The Lyon Center is USC’s main gym for more than 17,000 undergraduate students, who are often frustrated by broken, malfunctioning machines donning “Out of Order” signs, with broken televisions.
Recently, overhearing a student athlete boasting about the new center — rightfully so — comparisons of the new athletic center versus the outdated Lyon Center sprang through my mind. I began to compare the popular Mansion student housing on 30th Street “New Mansion” to the “Old Mansion,” reliving many student frustrations of dealing with old, worn down amenities while those in the modern space pay the same amount of rent if not less than the residents of the run-down apartments next door.
Compare this to the students paying full tuition at USC, without any special advantages, with the benefits that student athletes receive: amenities, scholarships, housing, a special cafeteria, registration priorities and athletic facilities. That is not to say the student athletes do not deserve these special benefits, especially a new facility, as they ultimately spend more time there than anyone else.
It is hard to see the situation as equitable, however. USC Athletic Director Pat Haden has made the project one of his first priorities, saying last year: “Once this facility is completed, our physical infrastructure will be among the finest of any athletic department in the nation, and worthy of our student-athletes.”
This sounds like an amazing opportunity for the university to continue its recruitment of prospective athletes, but what about the uncoordinated “Average Joes” who might not be D1 material, but enjoy working out while catching up on some television (provided the TV works?)
With a $3.7 billion endowment, the administration could afford to vamp up the conditions of the Lyon Center. For those who work as hard in Leavey Library as sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods does on the field, should we be punished with an outdated, unsatisfying gym while trying to blow off some steam?