Wellness Center to be closed for Debate

As the University of Miami gears up for the imminent Presidential Debate, the Wellness Center has closed for the use of media. The Wellness Center was chosen for its size and proximity to the Convocation Center-the location of the debate-and was actually one of the reasons UM was chosen to host the event. The gym is scheduled to reopen Friday at noon. While the gym is closed, aerobics and yoga classes will be held in the UC Ballrooms.

As of last week, the Wellness Center had already been undergoing transformations. Students faced some disappointments even before the entire gym closed.

“It’s going to be the worst week ever,” said Ashley Dobble, a sophomore who goes to the gym five times a week. “They’re ruining it already-they had no free weights today. It’s horrible.”

Many have asked why no pro-rated fee was offered to students and other patrons, to take into consideration the loss of gym services. Norm Parsons, director of Wellness and Recreation, explained that no group was offered a pro-rated fee because the University still needs to pay for upkeep of the facilities. He mentioned that even during hurricanes there is no reduced price.

During the debate, approximately 2,000 media representatives will be expected. Two thousand desks, Ethernet cables and phone wires will be set up. Center Court will be used for interviews and be called Spin Alley.

While creating a temporary gym under tents or somewhere outside of the building was contemplated, ultimately it was deemed too difficult and dangerous to the machines. Wellness Center administrators explained that the schools that are able to set up tents don’t have hurricanes; Miami is in fact expecting high speed winds due to Hurricane Jeanne.

Another alternative discussed was using the athletes’ gym during this time. However, that gym was booked with athletic team practices, and the facility mainly contains weightlifting equipment, while students usually utilize cardio machines.

“I don’t know why they didn’t use the Convocation Center [for media], but I guess the Convocation rooms were being used for something else, like the parties,” said Zach Schneider, a senior who works at the Wellness Center.

Although a majority of students are displeased with the gym closing, they are also aware of the need to use the Wellness Center and accept it as part of holding the debate.

The gym will reopen Friday at noon.

While the gym is closed, aerobics and yoga classes will be at the UC Ballrooms.

“I’m kind of upset, but I understand why [the gym is being closed],” Stephanie Wood, sophomore, said. “They need to put the media somewhere.”

Ali Butrico, a junior volunteering in the debate, is highly supportive of the decision.

“Being a political science student, I am very involved in this year’s Presidential election and I think it is an honor for the University to be taking such an important role in the upcoming election by hosting the debate,” Butrico said. “To me, it’s a small price to pay-and exercise can be done in many other places besides a gym.”

Some students are skeptical that with the debate running well into Thursday night, the Wellness Center will be able to open soon the following day. They are doubtful that the transition from getting the media out, to putting all the equipment back, can be as quick as administration says.

Areas not used for the debate are scheduled to open as early as possible on Friday. Students are advised to call the Wellness Center’s main number, 305-284-8500, on Friday for more information.

Candice Castaneda can be contacted at c.casteneda2@umiami.edu.