Northwest corner of UT campus needs a gym

Abinav Kumar

The FAC vs. the PCL. Kinsolving vs. J2. The Union vs. the SAC. These are among the oldest on-campus rivalries known to UT students, but let us put those aside for a second. Pay attention to the lack of athletic facilities in northwest campus, compared to southeast campus. The only location northwest campus can claim is our good old, soon to close, un-renovated gym with no weight room, Anna Hiss. With Clark Field, Gregory Gym, Belmont Hall and the RecSports Center, southeast campus easily takes the cake for exercise locations.

The University Residence Hall Association divides the campus into three areas: Whitis Area community, Waller Creek community and Jester Center community. The southeast area of campus is composed of the Waller Creek community and Jester community, which have a capacity of 4,763 students. The northwest area of campus is composed of solely the Whitis Area community, which has a capacity of 2,193 students.

The students in the northwest corner and areas around it are neglected when it comes to athletic amenities relative to the southeast corner. Additionally, it takes about 15 minutes to get from northwest campus to southeast campus. While there are advantages to living in the northwest corner of campus, most prominently the selection of overly-priced “city food” on the Drag, every time I want to go to the weight room, I have to take out 30 additional minutes of my day.

URHA President Alan Bigler sees the split between amenities as relatively even.

“In this I would say they are proportionate,” Bigler said. “For example, San Jacinto Residence Hall has the stadium food court and Cypress Bend but also has Clark Field, whereas Duren doesn’t have Clark Field but is in a wonderful location close to the Drag. Moore-Hill is right next to the SAC full of food, etc.”

The location of Whitis Court, Duren, Kinsolving and the Quad are convenient for those who want to go off campus and get food, but for those who are on a tight schedule and want to stay physically active, the location is less than ideal. Some may argue that Duren has a gym in its basement and that is good enough, but only Duren residents have access to this “gym,” which consists of only a rack of dumbbells, a couple of benches and some treadmills.

URHA may divide Jester and Waller Creek into two different communities, but in reality, they are less than a three-minute walk from each other. The division and significantly higher population in the southeast area of campus misrepresent the interests of northwest campus.

Bringing a gym to northwest campus will likely incentivize students in that area to be more physically active, and possibly even those in the surrounding areas of West Campus and North Campus as well. At a vital age of development, helping students build healthier habits will stick with them for years to come.

The University should begin to push even harder for physical health resources alongside their recent push for mental health resources. If what starts here changes the world, we should make the world a healthier place.

Kumar is a PACE freshman from Sugar Land. Follow him on Twitter @ImAbiKumar.