Scott Young, Staff Writer
The Jacksonville State University Student Recreation and Fitness Center is now open for business almost two years after the JSU Board of Trustee’s approved its construction.
The RFC launched a “soft opening” beginning Monday featuring limited hours, with the new facility open to students and the paying public between 5-7 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. throughout the week as the new venue is broken in.
The facility is scheduled to have a grand opening on January 28.
Spanning over 100,000 square feet, the facility features recreational gymnasiums, a weight and fitness area, a wellness center, an elevated walking track, racquetball and basketball courts, a small leisure pool and whirlpool, a 40-foot indoor climbing wall, group exercise studios, and locker rooms.
“It will establish a new gateway experience for campus visitors and make JSU more competitive for student recruitment and retention,” said JSU President John Beehler following the Board of Trustees unanimous approval of the project in 2017.
The budget for the recreation center was set at around $28 million and funded through a Public-Private Partnership (P3). The university entered into a ground lease with the JSU Foundation which transfers ownership of the recreational facility to the university after the ground lease ends.
Many students spoke out in opposition to project, arguing that the university did not make a concerted effort to listen to the opinions of students, and that students should have the option to opt out of the fee if they are not going to use the facility.
“Has anyone else noticed the $190 JSU rec center fee and can anyone point me to the agreement I made to pay for a facility I won’t be using,” Allison Phillips, a nursing student, said on Facebook.
Beginning in the Spring 2019 semester, each student was charged an additional $190 fee to cover expenses for the facility, which will be charged to their accounts each future semester. The recreation center fee comes only one semester after the university increased undergraduate tuition by 5 percent to avoid a university budget deficit.
“A survey of 2,000 students was conducted asking if students would be willing to pay a fee for the rec center. The majority of the students marked yes and here we are,” said Noah Davis, who responded to Phillips’ post.
“Students and Student Government have been involved in the planning, fee decision, and decision-making process for the Recreation and Fitness Center since the project’s beginning in 2016,” says University Recreation Director Joanna Prociuk. “Input from thousands of students was collected via surveys, focus groups, and meetings.”
Students of JSU will have full access to the recreation center with a valid JSU student ID, though faculty, staff, alumni, and unaffiliated members must pay monthly for a membership. The facility is located next to Kennamer Hall on the southeast side of the campus. For more information on the recreation center, be sure to visit http://www.jsu.edu/recsports/.