Bowdoin's admissions web site describes its athletic facilities as "top-notch." We have a state-of-the-art squash facility, multiple gymnasiums, first-rate sailing and crew equipment, and a competition swimming pool, to name a few. So, why is it that Bowdoin's most basic athletic facility?the Watson Fitness Center in Smith Union?is, as a vast majority of students would put it, so sub-par?
As highlighted in the recent article "Waiting to workout: fitness facilities at Bowdoin," many athletes are unable to complete workouts required by their coaches because of frustrating traffic at the fitness center. All but two NESCAC schools have larger fitness centers on campus, and those two have finalized plans to renovate. One tour guide even told the Orient that he is embarrassed to take his groups past the fitness center when walking through the union.
Surely, six treadmills cannot sustain the fitness needs of 1,666 students and all the faculty, staff, and alumni who use the facilities. This is clearly evidenced by observing the all-too-frequent lists of students on dry-erase boards who are waiting to use machines at the fitness center. Outdoor exercise is not always an option during the rugged Maine winters, and one would hope that the $41,660 comprehensive fee would offer a student the opportunity to get quick access to a mere treadmill in between government class and lunch.
Fitness is a central component in keeping a healthy lifestyle. College Physician and Director of Health Services Doctor Jeff Benson said in an article last week, "Thirty minutes or so per day, a few days a week, is what we all need." So many students use exercise as a fuel for getting through long days of classes, homework, and meetings. But if a student only has 30 minutes of free time during the day, what is the sense in simply using it to wait for a fitness machine at Watson?
With Bowdoin's growing endowment, we expect that a plan is in the works to create a brand new fitness center in a few years?a center that the College could honestly call "top-notch."
Until then, there needs to be a temporary solution.
Bowdoin Student Government has worked to expand gym hours, but significantly increasing access and the number of workout machines is a matter the College must address. It could perhaps add more elliptical machines and treadmills to the old squash area of the gym. Also, the fitness center should be cleaned during off-hours instead of interrupting free time students may have between 9:30 and 11 a.m. when the center closes for daily cleaning.
Whatever the change, it needs to come now. The Watson Fitness Center might have fulfilled the needs of students 10 years ago when it was created, but its time has expired. Students should not have to wait years for the College to hit the drawing boards and fashion up a new plan. Something so important to student life as physical fitness cannot afford to be put on hold.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board. The editorial board is comprised of James D. Baumberger, Drew Fulton, Bobby Guerette, Evan S. Kohn, and Beth Kowitt.