As an athlete, student and a sports section editor, I have spent the last six weeks researching and exploring the issues with the Stoller Center and the feasibility of expansion. After speaking with various department heads, administrators and programmers I am extremely disappointed.

The reality of expanding the building is still just as much of a distant concept as it was when it was first proposed.

Between cramped spaces, outdated equipment and limited space the Stoller Center has failed to meet the needs of every entity that uses it.

Exercise Science Professor Shawn Henry blatantly described the Stoller Center as “woefully inadequate” for all who use it.

Athletic Director Ken Schumann explained that expansion will rely on finding donors who are willing to fund it, meaning that there is no time table of when this expansion will happen.

I completely understand that there are several other important areas of focus for the university, including building extra science buildings and a third health professions campus in Hillsboro.

Expansion of the Stoller Center has become lost in the mix.

Point blank, the Stoller Center needs to be the university’s top priority.

It is the most universally advantageous project the university could take on right now.

The Stoller Center expansion is estimated to cost between $5 and $8 million, making it the cheapest construction project currently up for debate by the administration. Not only that, but by investing the smallest project, the university would be helping the most people on campus.

Pacific has put a very strong emphasis on athletics for a reason. It recognizes that athletics are what draws in students and money. The current athletic population is 40 percent of the total student body and it’s continuing to grow. When students come to Pacific on recruitment trips or even general interest tours, one of the most high interest spaces is the athletic center.

Schumann said Pacific is the fastest growing athletic department in the Northwest Conference and other schools have seen this growth and emulated it. If we want to continue this rapid growth. We simply can’t do that when we run out of physical room for the athletes we attract, which is what is happening.

Not only is this lack of space impacting athletes, academics have also felt the effects.

The second largest growing entity on campus is the exercise science department, which is also crammed in inadequate spaces. It is simply not acceptable to force a program we claim to take pride in to share its storage spaces with an electrical closet.

Henry said he is very concerned that the inadequate space will result in a decrease in quality of experience for students. This decrease is not a distant worry; it is already beginning to happen and will only get worse.

As a university that is branding itself as a growing community, it is vital that Pacific put its best foot forward at its home campus.

Even without athletics and academics, the Stoller Center remains a huge space of traffic for the university as a place to host large events.

Henry said the Stoller Center is arguably the busiest space on campus between sporting events, academic events, speakers, camps and programing. Putting emphasis on it would not come across as favoring the athletic department because it would benefit legitimately every partof Pacific.

The most urgent of all of the issues of the Stoller Center is the fitness center. Not only does the fitness center lack proper space and equipment for healthy activity but also it lacks the direction and instruction to keep students from engaging in dangerous behavior.

As someone who uses the fitness center regularly, I see potential long and short-term injuries happen every day.

The fitness center is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

All it takes is one person to crush his or her foot by dropping weight on it to sue the university for more than what the Stoller Center addition would cost in the first place.

I understand the need to prioritize projects and seek outside help to fund projects that aren’t viewed as urgent need. What I realized and what I’m hoping others will realize after reading this is that the Stoller Center expansion is an urgent need and it just makes practical sense.

If the university doesn’t make this investment now, they may regret it.

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