Free on-campus fitness centers should stick around – The Oswegonian

By Abigail Connolly

In a Feb. 7 email from the Officer in Charge, Dr. Mary C. Toale, SUNY Oswego announced that it would not charge students for the use of on-campus fitness centers. The fee waiver would last for the remainder of the spring semester.

“We are thrilled to announce free student membership access to SUNY Oswego fitness centers for spring 2022 as the first use of HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief) mental health and wellness funds. Fund),” the email reads.

Two months later, the fitness center emailed students who had used their facilities during the free spring semester, linking a survey to determine the impact of the funding. It is important that they collect this data in order to understand the impact of free fitness centers on the mental and physical health of students.

In the February 25 issue of the Oswegonian, I asked why the movement for free gym memberships hadn’t been made sooner. After the negative financial impacts caused by COVID-19, students have lost income and a way to pay for non-essential expenses.

While it’s understandable that fitness centers aren’t considered completely “essential” to life, that would be to ignore the many mental and physical health benefits of having a space to exercise. On-campus fitness centers are generally considered to have more than enough resources, machines, and support. They emphasize building community through various group classes, challenges, and events, all of which give students the opportunity to meet new, like-minded people in a positive setting. Something that might otherwise be difficult for students to do in the college setting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that students who are physically active are more likely to have better grades, better school attendance, better memory, and better classroom behavior. Additional studies have confirmed that the higher the levels of physical activity and fitness, the better the cognitive performance. Not only does offering gymnasiums as a resource allow students to stay in better physical shape, but it has the potential to improve class structure and student potential.

SUNY Oswego has made a fantastic decision in allowing students free access to these facilities. Students who may not have been able to afford the previous fees now have access to a healthy outlet on campus.

The survey sent out will help determine if this resource will continue to be easily accessible to students. For mental, physical and community health. It is necessary for many students to feel free from the daily stresses of college life and for many this place is the fitness center. Now that it’s been offered for free, I think students might find it difficult to afford the $65 access fee.

The HEERF would be well spent at SUNY Oswego fitness centers and provide space for students to improve their overall well-being.

Kailee Montross | The Oswegonian

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