Indiana State celebrated student advocacy and engagement with the opening of its new Student Recreation Center. The ribbon-cutting and dedication on July 10 capped a six-year collaborative effort between the University and its students.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Michael Scott Jr., president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and one of many student leaders who watched the project evolve.
“The fact that we were able to have an impact on something of this magnitude shows how important student government is,” Scott said. “We greatly appreciate those students who came before us.”
The students’ efforts paid off in a big way – the 109,450-square-foot facility houses a three-court gym that can be used for volleyball, basketball and badminton; a juice bar and lounge area; locker facilities and equipment rooms; cycling studio; and administrative offices.
The aquatics area, with large windows to allow sunlight to stream through, features a 112,067-gallon pool and a 22-person spa with Jacuzzi jets. A “wet” classroom supports aquatic programs such as lifeguard training and water safety classes. A multi-activity court will allow indoor soccer and floor hockey and can be set up to host dances and other social functions.
The second level features 10,500 square feet for fitness activities, including cycling rooms, elevated jogging/running track, multi-purpose activity rooms for aerobics, martial arts and cardio equipment with iPod integration and USB flash drives for transferring personal fitness data.
“This building will help improve the quality of life for students,” Doug Huntsinger, a former student member of the ISU Board of Trustees, said. “It’s unbelievable how a few people’s dreams can turn into reality.”
The center is a dream come true for students who have been involved in the project since day one.
Former SGA presidents Megan McManana, Hobart Scales and A.J. Patton along with Scott and former student trustees Huntsinger, Jessica Robertson and Grant Scharton championed the project from the planning stages to reality.
In April 2005, the SGA conducted a campuswide referendum that demonstrated by a two-to-one margin students’ willingness to pay a mandatory fee to support the construction of a facility dedicated to their recreational use. SGA worked with the University throughout the design phase and developed policies for the building.
“More than anything, we wanted a building that kept students on campus, that engaged them in campus, got them involved and got them active,” Scales said. “I think having that broad support from the get go, having the project really led by students, having it supported by student government and the student body all the way through made the difference.”
For Patton, a two-term SGA president, walking through the facility was a rewarding experience.
“This is a culmination of the efforts of so many different people, so many different administrators and students. This is just a really powerful event,” Patton said. “Cutting the ribbon on this is one of the most important things and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”
There were challenges along the way, Patton said, but people were always ready to lend support.
“This project had to get approved by the legislature, and we couldn’t have gotten it done without (former Special Assistant to the President for External Affairs) Greg Goode and Clyde Kersey,” Patton said.
Kersey, who has served 13 years in the legislature, realized the potential of this project.
“When you start with an idea that came from students and you see the plans and you walk through this beautiful building. . .This is a great story. I’ve been involved in a lot of projects in my 13 years and this is a special project,” Kersey said.
The Student Recreation Center fulfills more than just a need for recreation space. It is also a key resource in student recruitment and retention.
“This facility and its related programs will bring new focus and energy to campus life, promote healthy collegiate lifestyles, encourage a lifelong commitment to wellness, introduce new forms of recreation, more fully engage students in the life of the University and enhance the sense of community on campus,” said Thomas Ramey, vice president for student affairs.
John Lentz, ISU director of recreational sports, emphasized the rec center’s commitment to serving its primary customers.
“Our pledge to the students is to offer the quality programs and services that this great building allows.”
In addition to students, Indiana State faculty and staff are able to use the facility as part of the university’s wellness program.
“Please take advantage of the opportunity to interact with students in this out-of-class atmosphere,” Lentz said.
The building will serve as an inspiration to future students, according to ISU President Daniel J. Bradley. “It was the efforts of these students, building coalitions and support, which not only made this building possible but established a model that will serve generations of students well into the future,” Bradley said.
(Paula Meyer is coordinator of media relations at ISU. To learn more about the Student Recreation Center visit http://www.indstate.edu/recsport/. To view a video or photo gallery about center, please visit the online photo gallery.)