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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Student Athletic Facility

Common Cents

In recent years, housing facilities have sprouted like mushrooms on the margins of North Campus. But housing is not the only gleam in the administrative eye. Other construction projects under consideration include a large expansion of the Commons shopping center and a recreational athletics facility for students outside the sphere of university sports.

There is certainly a need for expanded recreational facilities, and a specialized non-athlete fitness center would undoubtedly be appreciated by current and potential students. Faculty and students would not have to venture off campus to enjoy the atmosphere offered by private health clubs. Sport clubs would no longer be forced to take a back seat to varsity athletes in competing for gym time and space. Additional weight rooms and increased fitness apparatus would better accommodate the large number of students who wish to work out in the evenings or between classes. And a stand-alone recreation center would add to the prestige of the university and aid campus recruitment endeavors. But the steep costs of the project outweigh the perceived benefits.

The recreation center would cost an estimated $15 to $35 million. While such a center is an appealing idea, it would be imprudent for the university to spend such an enormous amount of money at this time. Improving the campus is important for attracting students in the future, but it must be balanced with academic considerations.

In recent years vast amounts of money has been poured into campus construction and capital improvements including the university's five-year housing blitz. While more blueprints are being drawn, academics are faltering. Course offerings are shrinking, class sizes are growing, departing professors are being replaced by teaching assistants and TAs are protesting substandard wages.

We do not live in a world of limitless resources and unconstrained budgets. Since revenues are finite, investing money into one area of the university necessarily involves detracting resources from another. UB must not lose sight of the fact that it is first and foremost an institution of education. Its primary concern should be the education of its students, but projects like the proposed athletic center run counter to that goal by allotting significant funds to non-academic endeavors.

Furthermore, the construction of a separate facility is detrimental because it contributes to the segmentation of athletes from the rest of the student body, suggesting that Alumni is the realm of athletes only and other individuals must look elsewhere for physical fitness. Interaction between the general student body and UB's athletes contributes to attendance and support for athletic events and fosters campus unity. If the administration wishes to encourage community and student interest in athletics, it should avoid segregating the two groups.

A more reasonable and cost effective solution is to build an extension onto Alumni Arena. The current facilities are not overcrowded to the degree that an entirely new center must be constructed. It is hard to imagine that athletes would find use for the facilities in Alumni that would be vacant after the construction of a complex exclusively for non-athletes. It seems logical to expand Alumni which already serves as the center for athletic pursuits, housing the track, swimming pool, squash and racket ball courts, weight rooms and extensive fitness equipment. Additionally, satellite fitness centers are already offered in the dorms and in the community buildings of the various campus apartment complexes. Creating a separate complex, which necessitates separate staffing, electricity costs, and parking facilities in addition to the high costs of construction, is unwise.

An addition to Alumni could solve the space problem at significantly less than the millions of dollars required to build a new athletic center. This solution is considerate of the fact that UB has an obligation to provide a quality education to its students and must spend accordingly. The university needs to get its priority straight.



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