Wellness Center expansion in the discussion phase

Emma Dejong

The Students’ Association wants to see the SDSU Wellness Center expanded.

Right now they are in the research and discussion stage, hoping that the South Dakota Board of Regents will approve a Request for Proposal in October or December. Until then, prototypes and building plans are at a standstill.

“Until that’s approved, we can’t come up with architects or anything,” said SA Sen. Evan Robb, who’s been involved with the project. “… we’re just kind of stagnant.”

Robb, a senior pharmacy major, said an email was sent out last spring to 30 percent of the student body at random trying to get feedback about what changes students want to see. He said 69 percent of the students who took the survey said they would spend $2.50 more per credit hour for the expansion.

“We just feel that since it was such a big deal for students that it was something we really wanted to work and look for,” he said.

Currently, students with a 15-credit schedule spend about $45 a semester for the Wellness Center as part of the General Activity Fee, said Doug Wermedal, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. The $2.50 add-on would cover an $8 million expansion, which Robb said was a “ballpark estimate” of what the expansion might cost.

Community Fitness Coordinator Kerry Brown said more space is the main need. He cited a recent Zumba class of 127 people in one of the studio rooms.

“A space that [size] is not meant to hold that many people,” Brown said. “In that room, even 60 people is tight.”

Brown said there are several areas he would like to see expanded: Student Health and Counseling Services, the number of basketball courts, the number of group exercise rooms, space for weight training and the amount of cardiovascular equipment.

Tyler Fleming is a senior geography major who visits the Wellness Center about three times a week – once for a rock climbing class and twice to exercise. He said he would be willing to pay more in fees for more treadmills and more space in the weight rooms but doesn’t think it should be the top priority for the university.

“I’d say on a scale of 1-10, I’d put it at a 5 or 6,” he said. “It’s hard to find machines a couple hours of the day. You’re going to spend millions of dollars for a couple hours a day?”

Brown said he doesn’t know where a Wellness Center expansion will fall on the priority list.

“We know the budget is a concern on everybody’s mind,” Brown said. “But first and foremost, we’re here for academics.”

Even though space is a concern, Brown said he thinks the Wellness is accommodating enough in the mean time.

“With what we have, we can get by,” he said. “More space and more equipment would be nice. But I also remember when I was here as a grad student, we were in the HPER.”

SA will continue gathering information before their presentation to the BOR next month.

“It’s a good start,” Robb said. “I’m happy. Mark’s happy with what’s going on. It takes time to research.”