For those Pacific University students who keep fit regularly in any capacity, the Stoller Center provides the only outlet in Forest Grove that provides a safe, convenient and well-maintained gym.

However in the last three years that I have been a student and athlete here at Pacific, I have seen little improvement to the gym facilities. In this time of growth and development in our university with the new dorm and other buildings, I am deeply disappointed by the gross oversight the administration continues to make in regard to the main gym facilities. A vast number of full time students are full-time athletes.

Every year we honor these athletes with a ceremony dedicated to expressing our pride in their achievements both in their individual athletics and in their classroom performance.

We have a beautiful track, a gorgeous stadium, and wonderful fields. The recent state-of-the art field house is a godsend for those who wish to train dry in our rainy Oregon climate. Our partnership with the Forest Grove Aquatic Center is admirable and I am grateful for the lengths the university goes to ensure that we student athletes and the greater university population have safe, clean, state of the art places to play, train and compete.

Science is increasingly showing us that consistent strength training is a fundamental part of any athletic regimen and that it is beneficial for everyone from pediatric to geriatric populations and everyone in between. Research has also shown that those college level students who work out in even a moderate capacity have greater resilience to stress and illness as well as increased energy, focus and classroom performance.

Some readers may wonder why the athletes of the school don’t make more full use of “the box” (the athlete gym) in the field house. Senior Troy Zuroske, a tennis player, didn’t even know that it was an option. I, myself, a runner had no idea the box was open to anyone but football players. I don’t understand why the school wouldn’t make a more concerted effort to advertise available resources to their highest performing students.

I would like to draw specific focus to the following issues in the main gym facilities in the Stoller Center. The barbells are old and inaccurate. They have been dropped and mishandled for so long that they are out of balance and some are even loose. The ab mats are disgusting, torn and smelly. MRSA is a concern of mine and who knows what could be festering in one of those things by the end of a full day of sweat dripping and skin rubbing.

There are modern machines that take up much less space and incorporate many more exercise options at once. The cable cross machine even has several broken plates on it that have been in disrepair for years. The lat pull down/seated row machine is similarly out of date. Offering only two exercises, it takes up an inefficient amount of space. The machine is unstable and is frequently pushed up against the railing where its function is severely hampered.

The equipment in the gym is frequently lost, stolen or mishandled so that it loses optimal training potential or even becomes useless.

Which segues perfectly into the next issue I’d like to speak about. The equipment in the gym is expensive and can be extremely dangerous if mishandled.

I have seen multiple people fly off of treadmills, fall and get caught in their still churning elliptical, bench press without a spotter and get stuck at the bottom of the lift, needing to call in emergency for help. I have seen people lifting weight that is simply too heavy, causing lifters to ditch lifts and drop equipment unevenly, and with dangerously improper spinal mechanics. I also know from talking with my peers and the frequency with which I am forced to witness these situations that they do not occur rarely.

We have work study students who work at the front desk checking out items to those who wish to play sports. Assistant tennis Coach Peter Yellico wonders why we don’t have a position or even a class where we can hire students who are certified personal trainers to supervise and keep gym goers safe. In a quick interview he voiced his concern for the safety of those who lift with low experience. Many gyms have some sort of supervisor making sure that no one is engaging in creeper, horseplay or otherwise dangerous behavior. It seems the correct thing to do when considering the issue from a liability standpoint.

The gym has other safety issues as well. Without enough weight belts and bar clips to supply all of the squat racks, let alone the Olympic pads, many lifters attempt to lift in dangerous conditions. They are putting themselves and others at risk. The lack of equipment makes it impossible to even perform certain movements that require bars like the full snatch or push press. I’d like to point out here that even practiced athletes with perfect form need belts and cables during many movements. This is an organizational issue, not a participant one.

Finally, the gym is simply too small. There is no room for more than a couple people to do core work at a time. Even when the ‘core section’ is being utilized other gym-goers must walk or even jump over their peers to get to certain pieces of equipment, which seems unsafe to me. The back section near the ‘fire exit’ is supposedly ‘off limits’ but this rule is rarely enforced.

If we have the ability to spend millions of dollars on a new dorm I don’t understand why we can’t invest in facilities to support the new students that the administration is so excited about bringing to campus.

Does it make sense to have an undergrad enrollment of over 2,000 if we have no one to teach them, nowhere to teach them, not enough class options for them and nowhere for them to work out?

I came to Pacific because I understood the ‘Pacific Difference’ as small, personal classes where I could really get to know my classmates and instructors as friends and colleagues and a responsive, concerned administration who values every student equally not because we’re paying nearly $50,000 a year to attend this institution but because we’re human beings who are doing our best to better ourselves and our communities through education.

Lately, I have witnessed a trend away from faces and toward numbers. Are continuously raised tuition, a never high enough student population, reduced receptivity and ever increasing class sizes part of that ‘Pacific Difference?’

I think our president and our other higher administrators love our university and have all of our best interests at heart. I beseech our readers though, to please use your voice and make yourselves heard.

What’s good for the university’s advertisement or financial portfolio may not always be what’s best for the world-class students and scientists who actually live, teach and learn here at our beloved Pacific University.


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