Athletes in the Health and Wellness Center

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

With the recent ice storm that struck campus, classes and resources usually available to students were canceled or unusable — including the weight room that athletes have for their team workouts. With their weight room being closed, this caused an influx of athletes in the Peter Courtney Health and Wellness Center.

While it was not a problem they were there — as they do pay tuition to be able to fund and use the HWC — the athletes did not follow many of the building’s safety rules and lacked etiquette.

One complaint from students was about the teams’ lack of spatial awareness, specifically on the weight mats. “They had their stuff strewn all over the mats and worked with several pieces of equipment at the same time,” said an anonymous student. “After I had a bench, someone was doing a plank right at my feet and someone used my bench, the bench that I was using, for rows.” 

During their time in the HWC, athletes left their bags in many different places around the lifting and cardio portion of the building, including the areas behind the treadmills and in the middle of walkways. In various spaces around the lifting and cardio floor, there are cubbies for patrons to store their belongings, reducing the risk of hazards. 

“We like to keep bags in cubbies, on hangers or in lockers, which is a safety thing,” an anonymous student worker said. “A lot of the athletes on the treadmills had their bags lined up along them, which was a huge thing because those bags could get caught and break our equipment.” This was a problem from Jan. 15 to Jan.19. 

Another issue HWC personnel had during this period was athletes dropping their weights on the ground, despite signage being posted all over the HWC. This included dropping dumbbells and barbells on the second floor. 

“We ask that you don’t drop weights,” the student worker said. “The reason for this is we’re a second-floor cardio and weight facility. It’s very damaging to the floors because it’s not on a base level, we’re on columns.”

The concern of an increase in the presence of staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that causes staph infections, was also voiced by a student, who was aware that the athletes were either not doing a good enough job of wiping their machines or not wiping them down at all. 

“We did a study recently with the biology department where we didn’t clean a couple pieces of our equipment and left that up to students and patrons to clean it themselves, and actively cleaned another set ourselves,” the student worker said. “We got swabs done and there was a higher likelihood of staph infections on the equipment we didn’t clean ourselves.”

A study conducted in 2019 by Mark Dalman and colleagues, collected a total of 288 environmental samples from 16 different facilities around the United States, from both sanitized and unsanitized pieces of equipment. The total prevalence of S. aureus was 38.2% on sanitized equipment, increasing to 62.5% on unsanitized equipment. 

Two female students also reported feeling uncomfortable in the space, which is unusual for the HWC. Generally, its patrons feel comfortable and relaxed in the campus-run space. 

“Typically, I feel safe at the gym. I have never felt objectified or even noticed at the Health and Wellness Center — it is a safe place for me,” one said. “However, the athletes made me so uncomfortable. Besides just them having no problem being in my space, they also had no issues staring at me and giving me looks that made me very uncomfortable.”

In the weight room that is specifically for student-athletes, each team has their own time they are scheduled to work out in the space. This often means that they do not interact with the other teams and those outside their sport in that environment. This could attest to the uncomfortableness in the HWC between the 15 and the 19, specifically with the male athletes. Female students reported being stared at by the athletes while they exercised.

The staff at the HWC request that they be mindful of the rules and mindful of the workers talking to them.

“We’re just students here, we didn’t make the rules.”

Many sources in this article chose to remain anonymous to protect their job or person. The Howl holds the right to these identities which have been verified. 

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