Student starts petition following announcement of budget shortages
The Santa Clara
February 22, 2017
Walk across campus and you’ll likely see students clad in workout gear going to and from the gym. Broncos in bro-tanks clutching bottles of radioactive-green pre-workout and others with slicked-back ponytails and skin-tight yoga pants are a common sight.
However, the impending changes to the Malley Fitness Center’s operating hours will leave students with fewer opportunities to get swole.
As of Feb. 26, Malley will close at 10:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday rather than at midnight. Friday operating hours were also reduced significantly from the current 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. schedule—it will now be open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gym also will be open from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturdays rather than from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays, it will operate from noon to 10:30 p.m., rather than opening at 10 a.m. and closing at midnight.
Once Spring quarter begins, the Friday hours will be even more restrictive, since the gym will be open from noon till 6 p.m.
“Hours are changing due to overage in our Campus Recreation student wage budget,” wrote Director of Campus Recreation Janice Demonsi in a Feb. 14 email to the university community. “This overage is due to minimum wage increases the last two fiscal years and not a large enough increase from the university to support the full hours of operation.”
In an interview with The Santa Clara, Demonsi said that Campus Recreation is currently $40,000 over budget and the upcoming hours adjustments are only saving $27,000. Because of this, Malley’s operating hours will be altered again for Spring quarter. In June, new hours will begin for the summer and the 2017-2018 academic year.
Demonsi said that these changes will save an estimated $65,000 annually and on Feb. 26, the Sullivan Aquatic Center’s hours will also shrink.
Campus Recreation funds its operating budget through alumni memberships, fitness classes, intramural sports, the Bronco Kidz All Sports Camp in the summer, among other initiatives. However, it only receives its student wage budget and staff salaries from the university.
Demonsi said that in January 2016, the minimum wage went up from $9 to $11 per hour, but the 2016 fiscal budget did not change. She added that although Campus Recreation’s fiscal budget for 2017 was boosted by $38,500, it fell short of what Campus Recreation requested from the university.
“We thought it would be enough to get us through the whole fiscal year with the $2 more an hour,” Demonsi said in an email. “We realized halfway through this fiscal year that it was not enough, and then in (January) 2017 minimum wage also went up another 10 cents.”
Many students are speaking out against the new Malley schedule, saying that it impacts their workout routines and will make the gym overcrowded.
“I got to the gym a lot of the nights between 11 p.m. and midnight, so I (am) significantly affected by this change,” said senior Ethan Head. “There are also always people using the basketball courts at that time.”
The gym is often packed on weekdays between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., as well as after 8:30 p.m, with sweaty Broncos filling almost every treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike.
Friday evening is also a popular gym-going time, as many students pump iron between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The gym also has a decently sized crowd on weekend evenings, especially due to outside visitors.
“The gym is going to immediately get more crowded,” said sophomore Patrick Haid, adding that he thought students will flood the gym during the middle of the day after these changes.
On Feb. 14, Head started a petition through Action Network asking the university to keep the current Malley hours. As of Feb. 20, the petition garnered over 1,000 signatures.
He is unsure about his next steps, but said that the tremendous student support for the petition speaks volumes.
Demonsi said the choice to cut operating hours “was not an easy decision,” considering that it is impacting a “healthy outlet” for students.
“I made the decision on what hours to cut based off the card swipes at the front desk and the head counts the staff take during the day,” Demonsi said in an email. “Friday mornings are by far the slowest day, and then after 10 p.m., the nightly check-ins decrease dramatically.”
Senior Katelyn Schendel said she works out late in the evening, so the reduced gym hours will make it difficult for her to find time to work out.
“I know a lot of people who use the gym during those later hours as well and these new hours will force us to find time to work out earlier in the day, which will make the gym even more crowded during peak hours,” Schendel said. “I think students’ health and well-being should be a priority to the university especially since we pay tuition.”
Campus Recreation is largely student-operated and employs only two full-time staff members—Demonsi and Kathryn Hutchings, assistant director of recreation.
Among student workers’ responsibilities are operating the front desk and pool deck, coordinating intramural and club sports and overseeing gym memberships.
According to Demonsi, out of the 140 student employees who work for Campus Recreation and in Malley, 27 received shift cuts. Some of these students had one or two full shifts cut, while others lost one and a half shifts for the remainder of winter quarter.
“When we do the spring quarter schedule the new hours will be set before that schedule goes out so no one’s hours will change,” Demonsi said in an email. “It was unfortunate that this decision took until (February) to officially determine what we would do to combat the overage when we learned of it in mid-December.”
Junior Tito Rios, who works as facility supervisor for Campus Recreation, said that his hours were sliced from nine hours to four and a half hours per week.
“I will be earning half of my usual pay for the rest of the quarter, which will force me to reorganize my spending until the end of the quarter,” Rios said in an email.
Haid, who is also a Malley student employee, lost a shift and a half following the changes, but said that he is lucky in comparison to other employees.
“I know at least two girls who now only have three hours for their shifts,” Haid said.
Haid said that he thinks the reduced operating hours will also make Campus Recreation lose out on potential opportunities to generate revenue, since there will be fewer windows for intramural sports and less time on the weekends for people to purchase guest passes.
On Feb. 16, Associated Student Government senators unanimously passed a resolution requesting that more funding be allocated towards the student wage budget for Campus Recreation, as well as increased financing for purchasing new equipment.
The senators also resolved to create a petition in support of funding Campus Recreation to maintain current operating hours.
The resolution contains facts and figures about gym use, logging that 5,889 people used Campus Recreation’s facilities multiple times between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
It also states that although the minimum wage has increased from $8.00 to $11.10 over the last two fiscal years, the university has not reevaluated Campus Recreation’s annual budget for nine years.
ASG hopes to present the resolution to the university finance committee, according to Alex Perlman, sophomore senator and chief architect of the resolution.
However, some of these changes are temporary. Demonsi said that for the next academic year, the gym will be open again in the mornings and won’t close until 9 p.m on Fridays.
“Some of the other changes will stay, (since) the check in numbers are not as high as other parts of the day—unless the budget for student wages is altered,” Demonsi said in an email.
Head said he thinks that the Campus Recreation funding issues play into a larger university-wide problem of prioritizing large, long-term projects rather than paying for smaller initiatives.
“Smaller things like keeping the gym open or buying new pH meters for the bio labs fall through the cracks, and at the same time you get buildings like Lucas (Hall), which are absurd (and) over-the-top, in my opinion.” Head said. “Lucas is beautiful but we don’t need seven TVs in each room.”
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.