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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Rec Center expands hours following student-led petition

The petition called for the Recreation Center to return to pre-pandemic hours, citing ‘overcrowding’ issues.
Jazlyn Selvasingh
The Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center, as photographed on Aug. 24, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Jazlyn Selvasingh)

The Vanderbilt Wellness and Recreation Center (Rec) will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily starting Sep. 6, per a university representative for Student Affairs and Athletics/Recreation. This change from operational hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. follows a student-led petition.

The Rec website cites this change as a “sustainable step” within the university’s “strategic reopening” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2018-19 academic year, the Rec was open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CDT daily before it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The facility reopened with reservation in February 2021. Since its reopening without reservation in August 2021, the Rec has been opening with reduced hours, opening at 7 a.m. CDT. 

There are currently three gym facilities available to students on campus: the Rec, the Commons Fitness Center and the Alumni Hall gym. Per a university statement, the Commons Gym completed renovations at the end of Summer 2022 and opened to students on Aug. 21. 

On Aug. 23, Chemistry Ph.D. student Eli McDonald created a petition titled “Restore Vanderbilt Rec Center Hours.” The petition cited “overcrowding” in the Rec and called for the center to bring back pre-COVID-19 pandemic hours of operation. From Aug. 23-25, McDonald distributed flyers with a QR code to sign the petition outside the Rec. As of print, the petition currently has 268 signatures. 

McDonald said the previous shortened hours have resulted in overcrowding and hopes that extended hours will create more room for physical distancing to promote health on campus. McDonald cited how The Princeton Review ranked Vanderbilt No. 2 in “Best Athletics Facilities” in 2023 as another reason he decided to start the petition.

“We’re not going to make gains through osmosis by standing around at an overcrowded Rec. We need access to proper equipment in a timely manner in order to execute a thorough workout,” McDonald said. “Overcrowding is preventing this. The fastest and easiest way to reduce overcrowding is to increase gym hours. Besides, the gym opened at 5 a.m. for years before COVID, and it’s high time to restore standard hours.”

Junior Amar Sarajlila said the overcrowding made it more time-consuming for students to access the Rec. 

“It takes approximately 30 minutes to get on one machine and, as a student, I don’t really have that much time to be waiting around,” Sarajlija said. 

Dr. Walter Chazin, the founding director for Vanderbilt’s Center for Structural Biology, has been a member at the Rec for 23 years and said he hopes to return to his 6 a.m. gym routine. 

Ever since faculty were allowed back to use the Rec Center, I have been waiting for the return to full hours,” Chazin said in an email to The Hustler. 

In addition to overcrowding issues, senior Jakob Karetsky also said he is frustrated with the lack of access to rental overnight lockers at the Rec, which were temporarily discontinued due to the pandemic.  

“Just bring back lockers that you can rent for the semester so you can throw your gym stuff in there and go there straight from class instead of having to bring everything,” Karetsky said.

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About the Contributor
Jazlyn Selvasingh, Former Staff Writer
Jazlyn Selvasingh ('23) is from Seattle, WA and is majoring in biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. When not writing for The Hustler, Jazlyn loves working on her research projects, going for runs, chilling with her pet turtle and reading/hearing stories.
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