BY MARQUIS CHERRY
When comparing our fitness center on campus to other institutions, like Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the Director of Recreational Programs here at McKendree, Mr. Kim Smallheer says, “It is just ‘okay.’”
About three years ago, there was a plan to completely take out the fitness center and build a brand new student recreational center with locker room space for athletic teams along with a pristine fitness center. This plan was less emphasized when Southern Illinois University Edwardsville opened up their new science building a few years back.
McKendree then shifted the funds towards major renovations to the Voigt Science building. This new building would include student research space, large lecture rooms, new labs and lab prep rooms and a grand entrance and lobby. The university received a gift of 2.5 million dollars recently from an anonymous donor, giving the university a boost to start construction in 2017.
“The university had and still does have three things they wanted to spend the money on: the science building, recreational center and library renovations,” says Smallheer.
These goals remain strong as the university has recently announced plans to build a metro-recreational center off-campus, which is supposed to serve as our recreational center but will be difficult, seeing that we share the facility, and most of the space will be occupied to house our hockey and swimming teams.
When speaking with fitness center regulars, they are happy that Smallheer is putting forth a conscious effort to improve the fitness center but are hoping for more changes in the future.
Max Shepard, who is a student transfer from Pima Community College in Arizona, says he appreciates what Smallheer has done with the fitness center. “I know he is in a difficult position right now, so for him to take initiative to make this place better is awesome,” says Shepard.
Smallheer felt the need to do some minor renovations, including new equipment to the fitness center totaling about six thousand dollars. Smallheer wanted to incorporate more equipment, but this was not financially feasible. “I didn’t have any of the money in my budget,” says Smallheer. “Student-worker pay is the majority of that budget, so I had to find a way to save the money in order to afford something like this.”
It is safe to say that no major renovations will be made to the fitness center anytime soon, other than simply replacing equipment. “I am not optimistic at all about this,” says Smallheer. “The budget is tight right now, and I don’t think the university sees this as a priority right now.”