Editorial: Gym proposal needs ‘working out’

There seems to be a myriad of complaints about Northeastern’s lack of space: there’s not enough living space, performing arts space, or classroom space. Rarely, though, a lack of gym space.

However, a new plan is before the board of trustees that will draw $25 million from the Campus Recreation Fee to build a new multipurpose recreation center and renovate Matthews Arena. Club sports is soon to be cramped, with potential renovations to the law school pushing more law classes into Dockser Hall and taking up space usually reserved for clubsports practices, and the administration has taken it upon itself to solve their dilemma.

And while we sympathize, this seems a little impractical. Why build a new facility just to relieve the pressure of a renovation when it seems we already have enough gym space to do this? Surely among the three gyms Northeastern operates, there is enough room for club sports. This is more than can be said for performing arts clubs and programs, which either use the limited spaces Northeastern offers, or travel to other schools to exhibit their talents, as is the case with one of the dance company’s winter show, which was moved to MassArt. Not to mention the student groups clamoring for meeting space. They need new facilities, too. Why should club sports take precedence over them? Club sports may not get a lot of attention, but at least they have practice space.

But the money used for the new Matthews renovations comes from the campus Recreation Fee, which can’t be used to build up performing arts spaces, since it’s purely sport-related. The fee, which was raised by the Student Government Association and made mandatory in 2004, was meant to be used to build a new football stadium closer to campus. It had previously existed as a fee for the use of the gym and attendance at sporting events.

Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Klotzbier said the renovations and new facility will ensure students see a return on their fees, since a stadium will not be possible until the distant future. These things do, after all, take time, and there is no current proposed location. This is all true, but won’t it take even more time if we add $25 million to the budget? This project can’t possibly help us move forward. If we continue to put the stadium off because it can’t be built within the current student body’s lifetime, will it ever be built? We don’t count on it.

This isn’t the first time money from the fee has been used for purposes other than building a new football stadium. The fee, which was supposed to go toward a goal of $10 million for the new stadium has raised less than $1 million, according to Fred McGrail, director of communications. Why? Other projects just kept diverting the cash.

There’s no doubt Matthews Arena needs improvements. As the oldest indoor hockey rink in the country, it’s not only our gym, but a historical landmark. It’s our responsibility to keep it in good condition. But $25 million is a lot of money.

The administrators aren’t giving it to us straight. If they weren’t really serious about a new football stadium, they should not have approved the recreation fee three years ago. The fee was raised and made mandatory to build a new football stadium, and that’s what the money should go toward, even if we have to enjoy it as alumni. Northeastern doesn’t need another gym space, and to be a school of substance, we can’t have four gyms and no real theatre. We already have three gyms, a pool and field space.

Let’s stop the extraneous spending. We don’t need to spend this money on facilities for club sports, yet we can’t spend this money on anything but athletics. Northeastern needs to save some of that $25 million and work toward its goal of a new stadium. Save it and look forward to football and track games in the future.

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