By Joseph Barrios
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students have to wait in line to get into the weight room at the Student Recreation Center.
And its administrators are worried that things will get worse.
The center adopted a new program over the summer called Members Plus, which allows University of Arizona students, faculty and staff to sponsor another person who can use the center's facilities. Sponsored members can visit the center for $50 per semester and $25 during the summer.
But Grant Smith, Student Recreation Center director, is concerned about the approximately 1,200 sponsored visitors who are not spouses or life partners. Another estimated 400 visitors are either spouses or life partners.
The Student Recreation Center has seen more litter, crowding and complaints to student employees since the program was activated for the first time this semester, Smith said.
"I think the students take care of this facility. This department and this facility is one of the most popular on campus. And the real ity is, we knew this facility was too small for the campus," Smith said.
Smith cited an example when someone "off the street" asked at the front desk if he or she could join as a member. When the person was told a student would have to act as host and sponsor, the person asked a student the person did not know if the student would sponsor him or her. The student agreed to do it.
"I think that it gives (student workers) twice as much work to do. And Members Plus people are not the nicest people," said Steve LaRoche, a security guard and first aid technician at the center.
LaRoche said some Members Plus visitors are rude and demanding of student employees.
Dr. Murray DeArmond, director of Student Health Services, said he agrees that the policy should be reviewed because students will have increased trouble each year the current form of the plan is in place. He said he's concerned because the center was built with one purpose in mind Ä to serve the campus community.
DeArmond, whose department oversees the center, said 1 million people visit the center every year.
"That program really is going to have to be reviewed this semester," DeArmond said. "We want to maintain as much accessibility as possible."
Smith is organizing a student advisory committee that would take input from students as well as faculty who use the center and try to alleviate problems. The Members Plus program is one of the issues the group will discuss.
Mike Proctor, a UA attorney who oversees the center's legal matters, said alternative ideas being discussed include placing caps on how many people are allowed into Members Plus or increasing fees for outside visitors.
Smith rejected a previous alternative. The first alternative asked that all visitors, including spouses and life partners, would only be allowed to visit the center between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.
The proposal was denied because Smith said he does not want to inconvenience the spouses or life partners who want to visit the center. But he said measures should be taken against people who visit the center with no ties to the UA.
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