There is currently talk amongst UNC Charlotte officials of plans to create a new Health and Wellness Center. As many students have noticed (and voiced), there is a lack in available fitness facilities on campus.
When visiting the Fitness Center in the Student Activities Center (SAC), students will find a crowded space having long wait times to use equipment. This can make finding time to exercise extremely difficult for the average on-the-go college student.
Hopes are that after the renovations to Belk Gym, which are set to be completed by Fall 2015, some of the crowdedness will be alleviated.
Alternatively, Jim Hoppa, assistant vice chancellor for Student Activities and Recreation, says, “with good facilities, utilization will increase.”
An increase in utilization, along with our university’s rapidly increasing enrollment, means that even with the reopening of Belk Gym, fitness facilities may continue to be overused and often overcrowded. With such a need for additional fitness space, the solution is just to build more facilities, right? Well, unfortunately, the solution is not that simple.
The construction process for new facilities involves a thorough process which must be completed before architects and engineers are even hired to draft blueprints.
A decision for a project, once approved by university officials, must go through the Board of Trustees to be approved. If they approve, the project is submitted to a Board of Governors for their additional approval.
According to Hoppa, “[The decision] becomes a matter of politics … If the public sees us using this money to build these new facilities, they might say that the money should go to build new academic buildings.”
Thus, the board of trustees and the board of governors must be careful in making approval of such a large expenditure.
Even if the project was to be approved, much budgetary work would have to be done to make it fiscally feasible. Hoppa explained that money and resources would need to be “moved around” from place to place, project to project, in order to finance a new center.
Though it would be an arduous process to undertake, the project still is on the table because it is a need of high importance for the university community.
“The university understands that there is a need, a high need, for [more fitness facilities],” said Hoppa, “Our facilities are completely overwhelmed, they are too crowded. They are not offering what [people] need in a facility.”
With the recognition of this need, the matter is not “if” facilities should be built, but “when” they should be built.
“The issue comes down to funding; it will obviously cause an increase in costs to students,” Hoppa said.
The proposed project would cause a projected increase of around $75-100 in existing student fees. Hoppa expressed that while this may not be much to some students, other students are already struggling and this would only add to their financial difficulties associated with obtaining a higher education. He expressed how university officials are striving to make a decision in the best interest of all students.
The university is certainly taking student input into account to determine when they will move forward with the project. They are working closely alongside students using tools such as student surveys to get their opinions.
The university is also working with the Student Government Association (SGA), which has already voiced its support for the project, to get a feel for what student popular opinion is on the matter.
Though student input is an important determining factor, it is only one of many factors that will determine when such an endeavor will take place. Numbers must be crunched and further approval must be sought before this project becomes concrete.
In regards to possible on-campus locations for the new Health and Wellness Center, two locations have been discussed. The first location would be where the current Union Lot is located, at the corner of Craver Road and Alumni Way. The second location is where the old Facilities Management office is located, at the corner of Craver Road and Mary Alexander Road.