One of my goals upon entering college was to exercise more. Binghamton University, as we all know, is notorious for low temperatures and being inundated with snow, especially at the start of the spring semester. Therefore, students may feel slightly discouraged to engage in physical activity outdoors.
When I was a freshman spring admit, I was under the incorrect assumption that the on-campus gym membership at BU was free, as I thought it was at all colleges and universities, so I believed I wouldn’t have to worry about finding an indoor location to exercise.
My first Pipe Dream column discussed ways in which students can stay fit outside of the physical activity and wellness general education requirement, and ways that BU can encourage a healthy lifestyle. However, BU lacks providing this encouragement by charging $100 per semester, or $180 a year, for a membership to access FitSpace and group fitness classes at the East Gym. Students may lack the drive and motivation to go to the gym themselves if they have to pay an additional fee on top of their tuition and housing charges, for students who live on campus.
SUNY Oswego is another university that charges for its membership, and their explanation as to why there is a fee while it is free at other colleges is as follows: “It is important to note that at these other colleges, students are paying for fitness center operational costs somewhere in the tuition and fees.” The explanation goes on to say that the fitness fees at Oswego are an optional expense.
While this may be true for Oswego, the additional fees that students must pay at BU should cover a gym membership for all students. For instance, there is a recreation fee, a campus life fee, an intercollegiate athletic fee and an undergraduate activity fee. Free access to the on-campus gym should be provided by these fees.
Free memberships are offered at other SUNY schools like University at Albany and SUNY Cortland. The first college I attended, Baruch College, also offered a free gym membership, which is why the membership fee came as a shock to me when I transferred to BU. In addition, SUNY Plattsburgh also claims that the fitness center fee is optional in its tuition, and at SUNY Geneseo, the on-campus gym membership is included in the on-campus housing fee for students.
The on-campus gym at BU also has limited hours, so those who prefer late-night workouts are out of luck. On the other hand, some off-campus gyms such as Planet Fitness provide 24-hour access for similar or lower prices, which is why I have chosen to purchase an off-campus gym membership instead.
I’m sure other students at BU have felt the same disappointment that I did freshman year when I discovered the extra fee for the fitness center in the East Gym, and for those who continue to pay for the membership, it is an additional expense that college students should not have to worry about.
Brad Calendrillo is a senior majoring in English.