If you’ve been checking your email recently, you’ve probably done a double take or two regarding the re-opening of recreational and athletic facilities on campus.
Although on-campus gyms within housing buildings remain closed, the same cannot be said for Maggs Physical Activities Center, University Fitness Center or even SU’s tennis courts.
On Tuesday, Sept.15, Matthew A. Nien, the manager of Fitness and Facilities at SU, announced that recreational facilities would become available once again to SU students.
Wait a minute— once again?
On Friday Sept. 4, The President’s Office and Housing House released emails to students announcing the close of recreational facilities on campus.
The President’s Office had announced this after a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, 10 to be exact, according to the email.
The President’s Office email had explicitly stated:
“Out of an abundance of caution, campus athletic and recreational facilities, including Maggs Physical Activities Center, the University Fitness Club, tennis courts and intramural fields, will be closed until further notice.”
Housing House’s email was almost identical adding that student gyms within on-campus housing would be closed as well.
However, this close was only temporary as we’ve seen that facilities are available to students once again.
Now, this is confusing for several reasons. The first being the rise of COVID-19 cases on campus since the closing of recreational facilities.
According to the Salisbury University's COVID-19 Dashboard, located on the “SU COVID-19 Testing Information” website, test results, which were released Sept. 25, show there have been 425 positive cases documented on campus since Aug. 11.
You’ll notice that this is significantly higher than an increase of ten positive COVID cases reported within The President’s Office’s initial email on Sept. 4.
If recreational facilities on campus were closed “out of caution” during a time in which there was an increase of ten cases, why re-open them when there have been 425 cases?!
Many students are shaking their heads at this fact alone, and I don’t blame them.
However, if you’re like me, you’ve likely given SU the benefit of the doubt.
I've thought to myself that maybe new guidelines have been created for recreational facilities, and that’s why they’re re-opening?
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
On Aug. 27, students were informed that recreational facilities would be open to students again, sending students hours of operation for facilities as well as specific guidelines for using the facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s because the most recent email, which announced the re-opening of recreational facilities, was issued Sept.15 and was practically identical!
The only difference: a phone number to contact the indoor tennis courts — which are not even available until October 5.
Regardless, guidelines have not changed.
Many would think that if the recreational facilities were to re-open, that additional guidelines would have been put in place. Otherwise, why re-open them?
If recreational facilities were closed previously due to a rise of COVID cases, why open them now when reported COVID cases have increased even more?
In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense as to why recreational facilities would even consider re-opening.
Most of the equipment in such facilities requires touch which is something that has been discouraged time and time again during this pandemic.
And although the recreational facilities positively contribute to student health, there are other ways to be physically active without going to the gym.
Salisbury University has a beautiful scenic campus which is perfect for going on walks or runs.
Salisbury University is also conveniently located 20 minutes away from Pemberton Park which has numerous hiking trails.
Additionally, there are SU clubs such as CHAARG, who have found ways to be physically active and engaged within their own homes, dorms or apartments.
Maybe this isn’t ideal for everyone, and that’s completely understandable, especially considering the specific equipment that Maggs and UFC provide.
If COVID-19 weren’t a factor, I’m sure everyone would love for athletic and recreational facilities to be available. I would too.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic is still a threat to the health of students, staff and faculty, as we’ve seen with recent SU COVID-19 results.
As such, we need to take proper pre-caution, even if it means re-closing recreational facilities.
Data from the Salisbury University COVID-19 Dashboard can be found below:
Eastern Shore GIS Cooperative. (2020). SU COVID-19 Testing Information. Retrieved from https://www.salisbury.edu/coronavirus/testing-info.aspx
By OLIVIA BALLMANN
Featured photo by Emma Reider