Fitness facilities are weak for most undergrads

USC constantly strives to keep ahead of the curve, maintaining its tradition of being among the most elite, innovative campuses with the best facilities and services.

Aaron Rovner | Daily Trojan

From the up-and-coming Ronald Tutor Campus Center — equipped with big name restaurants, a lounge, volunteer center, radio station and even a bar — to the brand-new University Gateway Apartments — with amenities that include a community kitchen, 24-hour concierge, resident club with Wii and rooftop terraces and a swanky new cinema building — it looks like the area around USC is greatly improving the next year.

But one area is severely lacking: the gym.

Many students ask everyday as they wait in line for a shoddy elliptical, “Why is it that the Lyon Center is such a glaring exception to USC’s impressive facilities?”

With a tuition bill of about $36,000 annually, top-of-the-line equipment in a spacious, modern building is expected here  and is a reality at many schools that charge less than half USC’s bill.

In fact, Ohio State University, where yearly tuition averages less than $8,500, is home to state-of-the-art recreation facilities, including the Adventure Recreation Center (ARC). According to the facility’s website, ARC boasts two indoor turf fields, in addition to an abundance of free weights, strength-training machines and cardio equipment, individual shower facilities. The ARC also houses the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), home to the Tom W. Davis Climbing Center, with a 4,000-square-foot, 35-foot tall climbing structure and bouldering cave.

Why can’t $8,000 of my tuition go toward a rock-climbing wall?

Okay, maybe Ohio State’s facilities are a little excessive, but it just goes to show how much we are missing at the Lyon Center, even after the university added more machines on the second floor in 2008, replacing a basketball court.

“I feel like every time I’ve gone there I’ve had to wait in line, even after they revamped it,” said Sarah Noel, a junior majoring in business administration. She decided to join a separate gym, Gold’s Gym, rather than battle the school facilities. “I just felt like it was overcrowded, so it was easier to go down the street to my own gym, although it sucks that I have to do that.”

It is promising that USC listened to student complaints in the past and created the new level, adding several more elliptical, bike machines to some already existing free weights and strength machines. However, only so much can be done with a small amount of space.

The real solution would be a new, larger building, as the cost of additional machines is surely not the limiting factor but rather a lack of space for them is. This of course calls into question where the building would go and who would fund such a large project. If only Mr. Tutor had a friend who is exceedingly passionate about fitness.

Still, it’s not that USC doesn’t have the money but that it has chosen not to spend its cash on undergraduate recreation. Not only is our facility lacking in space, but the upkeep of the machines is also a major issue. The elliptical machines appear fancy with their personal TVs until you realize  only one in every three functions properly. And pickup basketball teams rarely have open courts to themselves — especially during intramural league nights.

Meanwhile, everyone is aware of the lavish facilities provided to the varsity athletes, though few ever get a chance to see them.

Should our athletes, who make up less than 5 percent of the student body, really have such extraordinary facilities when the rest of the 18,073-person student body waits in line for 15 ellipticals (assuming they are all in working condition)?

Don’t get me wrong, we all love and support our athletes, and wouldn’t want to take anything away from a program that’s contributing to their success. But if their gym and equipment is at such a high level, ours could use a little love.

“I feel that [USC] could put more money into the weight room at the Lyon Center. I think they put in the minimal amount they could to make it work,” said William Simon, an undeclared redshirt freshman on the water polo team.

Simon notes that the gym has “bad ventilation, few machines and [is] too crowded.” He even admits that non-varsity students deserve better. “They’re paying for it. Sometimes we had to lift in there, and it sucked,” he said.

With so many student complaints, it seems obvious that it’s time for USC to step up the recreation facilities. With improvements in nearly every other aspect on campus, and an impressive dedication to improving student life based on feedback, it’s surprising the Lyon Center was somehow left out of the university’s grand plans.

Melissa Zonne is a junior majoring in public relations.

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