Rec Center expansion should bulk up hours of operation

Judging by the popularity of the new Student Recreation Center expansion, thousands of students will shed the holiday pounds just in time to show off during Spring Break. Thanks to the multi-decade investment of past and future UA students, top destinations will see a host of students set to show off their new figures. As mid-March slowly approaches, workout routines and demand for treadmill TV's will only intensify. Students battling rigorous schedules for both school and work will encounter more difficulties finding time to go to the Rec.


As the nostalgia of winter vacation melts away, the reality of a new semester becomes more daunting. After long hours of studying, the benefits of exercise — both mental and physical — become more evident. However, the Rec Center still has serious limitations, despite its impressive repertoire of technology and aesthetically pleasing architecture.

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The Rec Center expansion is a shiny new Christmas present for the UA, rivaling a brand new PlayStation 3. But with only one Rec Center, everyone must share. Unfortunately. not everyone can get a turn by 10 p.m.


The problem lies in the fact that these shiny new toys get shut off early, leaving busier students left to their own devices, despite having paid annual fees.


For some readers, a 10 p.m. closing time may be late enough. For others it's woefully inadequate to accommodate for their busy, dynamic schedules.


Last academic year, when the Rec Center was still operating in the Bush leagues, Campus Rec adjusted the closing time from midnight to 10 p.m. due to budget difficulties. Now, as a cutting-edge facility, the Rec Center still maintains the early closing time.


The problem with the 10 p.m closing time, and any justification for it, is two-fold. First, budget difficulties pose a danger to many programs at the UA. However, the Rec Center expansion is built and already operating, unlike the additional dorms and renovation projects across the university. The UA needs to take the initial response of the student body to the Rec Center expansion, which has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and add an additional two hours of operation at night to maximize the return on the investment.


The second problem with the closing time for the Rec Center is the irregularity of student schedules. While the first few weeks of school may be relaxed for some, the grind of the semester will undoubtedly skyrocket for most students. Substantial amounts of reading, writing and studying for exams will push student schedules later and later into the night. After hours in the library, a getaway to the Rec Center can be the best medicine for stressed-out students.


Besides a demanding academic schedule, a large portion of the student body works in the service industry to pay for educational expenses. During a typical weekday, many students can expect to work until several hours after the traditional clock-out time of 5 p.m, if not significantly later. A strenuous, late-night workout can do wonders for alleviating stress, especially for students who must tolerate rude customers.


A facility that opens at 6 a.m. will surely attract the early bids, but staying open until midnight can bring out the night owls. Most students would quickly attest to the dominance of night owls at the UA.


As budgets tighten, students need more options for low-cost or free activities. Each student has already paid and will continue to pay for access to a high-quality fitness center, and they all deserve a Rec Center that accommodates the ever-changing schedule of a college student. Millions of dollars have already been committed on the part of past and current students to build this shiny new toy. We just want to play with it more.


-- Dan Sotelo is a political science junior. He can be reached at closing time at the Rec

and at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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