The Vermont Cynic

McAuley fitness center fee upsets residents

Caitlin Lewis and Emma Jarnagin

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The nearest free athletic facility is a 25-minute walk across campus for students living on Trinity campus.

This fall the Wellness Environment left Trinity campus, home of the McAuley Hall fitness center. In order to use the facilities, residents must pay a $125 membership fee.  

The membership fees help pay for maintenance, staffing and both long and short-term upgrades to the fitness center, said ResLife Director Rafael Rodriguez.

Although the Patrick Gym is funded by a comprehensive fee paid by all students, the fitness centers in residential halls need additional funding from membership costs. For this reason, “there are no plans to cease membership fees,” Rodriguez said.

Sophomore Tessa Carbonneau, who started a petition to end the fee, said it’s frustrating that the University isn’t making that type of lifestyle accessible to all students when UVM places so much emphasis on health and wellness.

“Considering that we pay $52,000 a year to attend this school, I feel that we should have access to the gym,” the petition states. “It would also help take pressure off Patrick Gym and make healthy living more accessible to all students.”

At the time of print, 360 people have signed the petition. The goal is to obtain 1,000 signatures, according to the online petition on Care2.com.

A group of students supporting the petition is actively working on meeting with the school and Trinity staff, Carbonneau said.

Carbonneau said she has had little contact with the administration. She plans to meet with a ResLife authority figure in order to be taken seriously, she said.

Other Trinity campus residents are in favor of Carbonneau’s effort.

First-year Evelyn Leikert, who described the McAuley facilities as “super small,” said she is annoyed that “the gym [on Trinity] is right there, [but] we have free access to the Patrick Gym, which has so much more to it.”

Leikert said she questioned why such a small gym should have a membership fee, while all UVM students get free memberships to the much larger Patrick Gym facilities.

In previous semesters, the McAuley gym was used by students in the Wellness Environment whose participants received free access to the facilities.

Others feel that the UVM community should be focusing on more pressing issues.

“[The gym]  should just be free, but students should organize around bigger problems,” said sophomore Jordan Ciccone, a former Trinity campus resident.  

“How much change are we going to create in people’s lives by getting free gym access?”

Rather than focusing on a gym fee, students should focus their energy on solving the bigger issues on campus such as teachers’ salaries, gender inequality and racism, Ciccone said.

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McAuley fitness center fee upsets residents