Students deserve recreational space

Tennis and pickleball court removal will make outdoor space less accessible at USC.

(Grayson Seibert / Daily Trojan)

As a commuter, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of having outdoor recreational space available for students at USC. While I don’t expect a university campus to be full of hiking trails, college students deserve to have designated space outside of recreational facilities to stay active.

Unfortunately, the University has chosen to prioritize the expansion of surrounding sports fields, but these will only be available for use by the University’s sports teams, such as the women’s lacrosse and men’s football teams. This decision entails the removal of the recreational tennis and pickleball courts within the next month, which will further diminish the already limited outdoor recreational spaces available to students on campus. 

Daily headlines, sent straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest at and around USC.

As finals season arrives, it will be important to prioritize the mental well-being of students, particularly during periods of intense study and potential burnout. Engaging in physical activity, fostering social interactions and utilizing campus resources such as counseling are essential pillars for maintaining mental and physical health. 

As a consequence of their high demand along with a highly populated student body, recreational spaces for students are extremely restricted. Oftentimes, when students want to find a place to take a break, these spaces are a common interest; the recreational spaces on campus become quickly crowded because of their limited capacity.  

In my two years on campus — especially during the beginning of the fall semester, as well as the midterm season — I find myself surrounded by students in mental distress and isolation. 

While a great majority of the student body makes use of the campus gyms, many still turn to outside spaces like the swimming pool, as well as the tennis and pickleball courts. 

Elizabeth Stuart-Chaffoo, the co-president of the Trojan Tennis Club and a senior majoring in business administration and finance, spoke to me about her concern regarding the renovation. With this, the club started a petition that currently holds over 1200 signatures. This petition was started to urge the University to offer new areas of interest for recreational use. 

Stuart-Chaffoo mentioned there was a possibility the club tennis team would be offered a space to practice on the varsity tennis courts by the University’s athletic and facilities management. Currently, there has been no comment from the University to offer tennis and pickleball courts to the general student body. 

“The greater USC community will not necessarily have access to the stadium courts, which really worries me, just as someone who really values tennis as a place where I can really have a break and have a release from the stressful day to day life it is being a USC student,” Stuart-Chaffoo said. 

She also expressed her concern for students not on the club teams.

“They’re kind of losing out on a community, right?” Stuart-Chaffoo said.  “A community of recreational tennis and pickleball players has been formed because of this outdoor space on campus that will no longer be there.” 

In terms of communities that have already been affected, the pickleball club team has not been granted any location to practice. This obstruction may leave them without a set space on campus in the upcoming year, which could cause the club to disband. 

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Zachary Law, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, spoke about his experience as a student who uses the tennis courts frequently. 

“I like to play tennis at least once a week, and I know a lot of my friends, we like to plan that once a week,” Law said. “That’s something a lot of us look forward to doing. Especially since we have different schedules, we don’t see each other often.”

Law transferred to the University during Fall 2022, and he mentioned that through the tennis courts, he was able to make many friends and find a community that doesn’t directly conflict with his academics. 

Oftentimes, students are left without space and time to form a community with their peers because of their constant studying or workload. Designated areas for play, such as the tennis courts, offer a break from an uncomfortable environment, especially for those students who find themselves far from home. Overtaking these recreational spaces harms the students who are being impacted and ignored by this decision.

While the difficulty of providing adequate space for varsity sports teams is understandable, this expansion should not come at the expense of other students who dedicate themselves equally to intramural and club sports. Without outdoor recreational facilities, students are given one less opportunity to socialize on campus.

These spaces serve as more than just venues for engaging in outside activities: They are integral to fostering a sense of connection, collaboration and collective well-being among students. 

While there are currently no updates regarding the relocation of the pickleball and tennis courts, it is in the hands of the University to prioritize the needs and preferences of its students in this decision-making process.

© University of Southern California/Daily Trojan. All rights reserved.