During the COVID-19 health crisis, the Roche Sports Complex is making it harder than ever for students to stay healthy.
Perhaps many can relate to the woeful tale of arriving at the gym with a formulated workout plan and a limited amount of time before class, only to be told, “Sign your name here and I will call you when someone exits the gym.”
Unlike amusement parks or dressing rooms, there are no fast-passes and no time limit for individuals in the gym — so one can potentially wait in line to exercise for a half hour or longer. For most people, doing pushups and air squats outside the gym while waiting is a poor substitute for a real gym workout. There’s no rowing machine on the basketball court.
Not only has the upper gym had its capacity reduced to a mere 17 people at a time, but the downstairs weight room is now reserved exclusively for athletes, thus barring approximately 75% of students from staying fit and trim.
While the student athletes are required to wear masks during their team lifts, it is unclear whether the downstairs gym observes any limited capacity like the gym just one floor above them.
Banned from the downstairs gym and severely limited in the upper gym, most Hillsdale students now have fewer opportunities to stay in physical shape than ever before.
During the other three seasons, students may seek alternative outdoor workout opportunities; however, the current winter weather precludes most forms of exercise, or at least greatly increases the risk of injury, as the sidewalks are coated in ice.
The gym seems to be a targeted area on campus for some of the most rigorous COVID-19 restrictions, but it is not like students aren’t exposed to one another in other parts of campus.
Students who have taken the Physical Health and Wellness core class may remember the importance of maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle. In doing so, an individual can help boost his immunity, mental health, and overall mood. Plato identifies gymnastic, or physical activity, as an essential part of a proper education. Hillsdale College has always affirmed this. Why should it abandon it now?
Furthermore, each student signs the honor code, which culminates with the phrase, “through education the student rises to self-goverment.”
Prior to returning to in-person classes and on-campus residences, students were supplied with ample data from the college administration about the risks of the virus, and the steps it has put in place to mitigate its spread.
Having educated themselves on the risks, students should have the wonderful opportunity to practice self-governance in their choice of if, when, and how to exercise in the gym.
Since gym attendees sign a liability form relinquishing responsibility from the school for personal injury, or loss of life or property, then attendees could also sign a form releasing the school from responsibility for COVID-19 infection.
If students’ health, fitness, and self-government is of the utmost concern for Hillsdale, then the college should open the gym.
In the words of Moses, “Let my people row.”
Austin Gergens is a senior studying English.