Photos by Luke Nankivell, photo editor
When we are first taken on a tour of campus, before we’ve moved in, before we’ve graduated high school, before we’ve even filled out an application, we are told that the Bell and Knapp Centers are the workout areas for all Drake University students. Recently the Underground Fitness was added to that tour creating a more central workout location on campus. But, starting this year, an area in the Knapp Center has been revoked from some students. The weight room is now reserved for athletes only.
Senior Zach Lukasiewicz wrote in an email to the athletics department comparing the changes to, “if Drake closed all of the academic buildings on campus but doubled the class sizes in Meredith. That would result in overcrowding, complete under-utilization of the other buildings.”
Lukasiewicz went on to say that he is “questioning where all of my tuition increases are going when my potential to growth is decreased to a couple of lifting benches and a janitor’s closet complete with free weights and a filing cabinet. The space itself is too small.”
Students have expressed discontent with the decision, especially considering the tuition increase they underwent this year.
“The Knapp Center weight room was redone to be a Division I athletics weight room. There are about 350 student-athletes that lift several times per week. Those students needed more access to free weights as well and now they have it,” said Associate Director of Athletics Michael Cigelman.
While students are upset about this issue, the weight room was not previously available for large amounts of time.
The weight room was available to students for around 50 hours per week, while the Underground Fitness is open about 100 hours a week and the Bell Center is open 97 hours per week. Additionally, the fitness room was remodeled with more benches and dumbbells.
“There are actually three weight rooms now. Underground Fitness is located in the Olmsted Center, and the Bell Center fitness room was completely redone this summer to include complete weight options. Both offer brand new state of the art lifting stations that include racks, dumbbell areas as well as stretching (and) core work out areas,” Cigelman said.
The third weight room is the “old” one, now reserved for athletes.
But, Cigelman mentioned that the number one complaint for students in the past was limited access to free weights, not the actual weight lifting equipment. Now, with the remodel, the free weight access is more than doubled.
Cigelman said that to get the entire picture you really need to see the facilities. The professional staff at the Bell Center re-did the fitness room so that students would have the same type of equipment as the weight room, or at least the type of equipment that was requested, such as the free weights.
Although the weight room is no longer a part of student tours, there are plenty of options left to students to have what they need for a good workout.