Thanks to an effort by the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, the Health Sciences Campus will receive a new fitness center in November 2011.
The organization, which represents graduate students, began working with administrators four years ago to build a gym on the graduate student-only campus. The final plans were announced in August.
The 10,000 square foot fitness center will be located slightly off of the Health Sciences Campus, but will still be within walking distance for students. USC will also offer a tram to and from the gym.
Construction has begun on the project, and it is currently on track to open next year.
The issue of the gym was brought up at one of GPSS’ “HSC Concerns” dinners last year, and a subcommittee was formed to tackle the issue.
Rosanne Yetemian, the former GPSS Health Sciences chair, said that USC administrators were looking for hard evidence that a gym was what the students wanted.
“It was ironic to us, being a health sciences campus, that we [didn’t] have a fitness facility to use,” Yetemian said.
Yetemian worked with GPSS to design a survey to evaluate HSC students’ needs. More than one-third of students returned the surveys, and the desire for a gym was “overwhelming,” she said.
After demonstrating to the university administration that students needed a gym for both convenience and academics, the plans for the new gym were launched.
Though details about the features of the fitness center are currently unavailable, GPSS President Jenny Novak said it should function as a “full-service gym.”
Jennifer-Ann Bayan, the current GPSS HSC chair, said the gym will also offer a place for fitness classes, including yoga and kickboxing. The current fitness classes at HSC have a limited number of spots because of space constraints, and are held in classrooms and conference rooms across the campus.
Despite being about seven miles from the University Park Campus, traffic makes it inconvenient for HSC students to use the Lyon Center, Bayan said. On a good day, it takes HSC students about 45 minutes by tram or about 30 minutes by car to get to the Lyon Center.
Previously, students wanting access to a closer gym were able to get a discounted rate at the local Bally’s gym, but that program has since been discontinued after a lack of student participation.
The fitness center will be housed on the first floor of a building originally intended for administrative offices and classrooms. After the results of the survey and GPSS lobbying efforts, however, administrators elected to turn the first floor into the gym.
The new center is only temporary, however, as a permanent gym is slated to be built as part of the HSC Master Plan, which includes many construction projects.
For the time being, GPSS members said they are happy with what their organization has accomplished.
“If we didn’t put the effort forward [for the gym],” Yetemian said, “then nobody else would [have].”
Clarification: 9/12/10 — A previous version of this story stated that the student discount program at Bally’s was discontinued because of the construction of the new HSC gym. The program was discontinued, however, it was because of a lack of student participation. This entry has been updated to reflect the changes.