UW-Madison is highly regarded as a physically active and athletic community, and it's no secret that the UW football and basketball teams are among the best in the country. Yet when it comes to the average student's opportunity for physical fitness, the Southeast Recreational Facility's hours and policies leave students yearning rather than burning from a great workout.
On any given weekend at noon, a lengthy line can be found leading from the doors of the SERF, as students wait to begin their workout regimens. (Contrary to popular belief, not every member of the student body is hungover at noon on a Saturday morning.)
The common sentiment among these weekend warriors is that the hours are simply ridiculous.
\It's really inconvenient,"" said UW-Madison sophomore Amanda Byrd. ""The late start pushes back the rest of my agenda for the day.""
Not only are the times inconvenient, the noontime rush for machines in the cardio room is out of control and it adds unneeded hassle to what is supposed to be a center for wellness. Students seeking an outlet for stress and a site for revitalization only find more anxiety when the wait for an elliptical machine is close to an hour long.
While the prospect of purchasing, housing and maintaining more equipment for the SERF is rather expensive, an easier alternative to cut down on congestion is to open earlier. An earlier starting time would aid in dispersing the congestion that arises when patrons who would on a weekday use the SERF between the opening time of 6:40 a.m. and noon are forced to use it at the same time as those who prefer to use the facility later in the day.
How early of an opening hour is reasonable?
Frequent SERF users debate over exactly when the best time would be. ""The SERF should open at around 7; most private health clubs are open around that time,"" Paul Grogan, a UW-Madison sophomore, asserted. However, not all fellow students share such a view.
Many students agree that the hours of noon to 9 p.m. on the weekends are too short in comparison with the weekday operation times of 6:40 a.m. to 11 p.m (1 a.m. on Thursdays). Yet these SERF patrons are willing to give a bit.
""A compromise would be great,"" UW-Madison junior Ashley Fenske said. ""Really, how horrible would opening at nine, maybe 10 o'clock be?""
Time, however, is always associated with cost, and therein lies the problem. The SERF, run by the Division of Recreational Sports on campus, views these few hours as mounting expenses. According to Dale Carruthers, UW-Madison director of recreational sports, ""Recreational sports is interested in expanding the hours of operation,"" and ""earlier hours on the weekends ... have been discussed internally.""
Unfortunately, Carruthers explains ""the resources at this time are not available ... We will be determining feasibility for the future, including what we anticipate costs to be as well as student interest.""
As the semester trudges on toward finals week, the SERF will only become more crowded, and the patrons more dissatisfied. In order to accommodate the rush of people using the workout facility, immediate action needs to be taken. To ease the problem, the SERF could open earlier for the two weekends leading up to finals, thus providing students with a much-needed respite from studying.
Though this shift in hours will most likely not occur due to financial constraints, students should not feel disheartened. Instead, they should voice their feelings until the directors of recreational sports understand the full magnitude of their discontent. If the well-being of students is the ultimate goal for the SERF, the demands of the people must not go unanswered.