UConn Students Should Pay For Fitness Center

With competition for students intense among colleges, having a state-of-the-art recreation center is becoming critical. According to collegeview.com, such facilities are "designed to lure students to the school, and keep them happy while they're there."

Thus it was no surprise that the University of Connecticut has announced that it is considering building a $100 million recreation and wellness center on the Storrs campus. The facility would replace the nearly 60-year-old gym, which was renovated in 1997 but still lacks the necessary pizazz.

President Susan Herbst understands that UConn can't go back to the state well for the funds to build the center, but must look instead to increasing student fees. "We absolutely will not put this burden on taxpayers, and we can't reallocate money from the academics bucket," she emphasized. Those are the correct priorities.

Perhaps predictably, some on campus, particularly graduate students, are balking at the projected fee increase, which could be $400 a year for grad students and $500 for undergrads.

The increase in fees is indeed steep; UConn could ease this by seeking donations to support the facility.

Fees wouldn't go up until the center is open, at least three years from now; most of today's students will be gone then. Those paying the higher amounts would have selected UConn knowing in advance what the costs would be — and what sort of recreation facilities they'd be able to enjoy.

President Herbst has said UConn is likely "a long way from a proposal and a decision," and that the matter "needs a lot of study." Agreed. You shouldn't rush into making a $100 million commitment.

But the idea is a good one. These days, a first-class university simply can't have third-class fitness facilities.

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