George C. Roche Sports Complex | Facebook

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.