Ryan Chartrand

It’s a familiar scene. You go to the Cal Poly Recreation Center in hopes of fitting a 30-minute workout into your day, but surprise – once you get there, you find that you’re not the only one with this plan. It’s you versus the mass of exercise-craving hopefuls and, unless you’re willing to wait, it’s not worth your time.

Wednesday and Thursday will mark the first steps toward amending this ongoing problem. Students will have the opportunity to vote on their my.calpoly.edu portal on not only whether the Rec Center should be expanded, but also whether it should be a more environmentally friendly, LEED-certified building. But there still remain some inherent problems behind this referendum.

As it is, Cal Poly students pay a total of $42 each quarter to Associated Students Inc.: $35 each quarter for the Rec Center’s facilities and programs and $7 to use and maintain the Sports Complex, which includes Baggett Stadium and the upper and lower sports fields off of Highland Drive and Via Carta Road. Now the proposed referendum would tack on an additional $65 to that – bringing it to a total of $107 per quarter.

What this means is that 10 years from now, any given student will be paying almost $1,300 more than what we’re paying now for four years of Rec Center usage, summers not included. In fact, none of us will even be around to fully appreciate the completed building except for this year’s freshman class – and that’s assuming they’ll stay for a fifth year.

As it is, there are students now who don’t use the Rec Center, and there will always be students like this. Who is to tell them that they should fork over an additional $1,300 for a service they don’t even use?

Then there are the students who fulfill their exercise needs at an alternative local gym. Club 24 charges $35 a month in addition to $135 when a customer first enrolls. Kennedy Club Fitness representatives said that most Cal Poly students pay about $50 each month, while Gold’s Gym estimated that the average membership is priced at $39 to $49 per month, which does not include a significant discount for Cal Poly students. Either way, all three options end up being comparable to what students will pay if and when the Rec Center is expanded. Given what these future students would be obligated to pay for the Rec Center alone should the referendum pass, it would be incredibly unwise to even think about joining another gym when it costs so much just to use the one on campus.

There’s no doubt that there is a problem at the Rec Center. At an ASI University Union Advisory Board meeting on Oct. 9, it was reported that an average of 200 members entered the Rec Center between 5 and 8 p.m. And it’s a given that the enrollment at Cal Poly is only going to increase. Just look at 14 years ago when the Rec Center was first built – 16,330 students were enrolled at Cal Poly as opposed to the 19,777 students enrolled as of fall 2007. Naturally, Cal Poly as a whole is going to have to accommodate expansions in various forms over the next 30 years.

But let’s look at what is necessary here. Gym-goers would certainly benefit from a sizeable weight room and cardio room and the proposed plan calls for these facilities to triple in size, allowing the maximum capacity to accommodate more than 300 people.

As for the pool, records from the Oct. 9 UUAB meeting show that more than 6,000 people used the pool in September, comprising a significant portion of campus. But do we really need a leisure pool? Sure, it looks pretty, but Cal Poly is a university – not a resort. And don’t forget that Poly Canyon Village, which is opening in fall 2008, will house its own swimming pool. So needless to say, Cal Poly will have pools, let’s not worry about that.

Now to top it all off, the proposed plan calls for a Multi-Activity Center. Looking more closely, however, this center doesn’t sound as though it would be all that different from the current gym that currently hosts concerts, Week of Welcome, job fairs and more. Officials say tht the new and improved gym will offer better accoustics to provide a higher quality concert experience. And the gym’s suggested safety padding and indoor soccer capabilities sound like perks, but really, are people getting thrown into the walls on such a consistent basis and suffering from playing soccer outside that this new center is warranted? Are the concerts at present so lacking that we should pay millions to improve the quality? What’s wrong with what we’ve got right now?

ASI needs to really look at what matters here and whether all students should be obligated to pay a fee for a utility that may mean nothing to them. Keep in mind that over the next 30 years, student fees will undoubtedly increase and Cal Poly may not always be known as a great deal in terms of what it costs to get an education here.

It’s only been 14 years since the Rec Center came into existence. By voting “Yes” for this referendum, you are essentially committing the university and all future students to this Rec Center for the next 30 years. Fourteen years from now, there’s no turning back and saying “time for a new Rec Center!” If Cal Poly is going to do this, it should be done right.

While the referendum about to take place is commendable in that students have greater access to voting, the current referendum as it stands simply does not warrant a “Yes” vote.

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