The Hansel E. Tookes Sr. Student Recreation Center was off to a late start this semester, not opening until Feb. 7.
Bob Carroll, director of campus recreation, said the fitness facility is normally allocated funds from the activity and service fees that students pay. Lower student enrollment this semester caused a decrease in the budget, which affected the gym’s ability to remain open.
Carroll said he could have kept the facility open. However, if the Student Government Association didn’t allocate additional funds, it could only afford to operate four hours a day.
“We can probably avoid never closing again, but for the majority or the larger number of users, it might as well be closed if you only have a four-hour window,” Carroll said.
Some students are pleased that the facility is open and operating on its normal hours.
“I am glad it’s back open,” said Winston Gunn, a fourth-year economics student from Ocala, Fla. “I’ve been waiting a long time for it to get back open and running. It will get me in shape for spring break.”
Gunn said he has a membership to another gym, but the recreation center is his place of choice to work out.
“You get a more personal vibe and feel more comfortable here,” Gunn said. “And I also enjoy the music here.”
Carroll said the only way to assure the recreation center maintains its normal hours is for SGA to allocate more funds from the budget to the gym.
“I think our student body needs to have a dialogue with their elected officials as to where they think their dollars should go,” Carroll said.
Tyler Hansberry, SGA’s finance and committee chair, said the key to keeping departments like the recreation center open year-round is for it to maintain a budget or consider other options.
“All the departments can be funded by the senate through A&S funds,” Hansberry said. “Departments can also fundraise and seek outside sources for funding.”
Hansberry said if the university experiences more enrollment decreases, the facility may need to make changes by decreasing hours of operation or employees’ hours.
Christopher Normann, campus recreation’s building supervisor and a senior cardiopulmonary science student from Fort Lauderdale, said the reopening of the facility has relieved him of a burden.
“It gives me a chance to work again,” Normann said. “It was a financial burden because I wasn’t getting my pay checks like I am now. It made it harder to plan for graduation this May.”
The recreation center is open Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m to 9 p.m., Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.