The Undergraduate Student Government discussed campus recreation, voter rights, and committee reappointments in its weekly meeting on Oct. 14.
Director of Campus Recreation Jessica Ward sought advice on ways to improve the student experience at Dillon Gymnasium.
“When you walk into Dillon, I don’t want you to look at Dillon as an athletics venue,” she said. “I want you to look at it as your space, your building, your place to feel comfortable.”
Ward said she plans for Dillon Gym “[to become] more of a community center” for all of the students on campus. Currently, the student gym sponsors Special Olympics, wellness workshops, and professional development for student employees, but it is looking to expand its outreach.
“We’re trying to constantly improve. We’re always looking to see what we can do better. We need to hear from students,” she said. “We can change that concept of Dillon Gym being just a building on campus.”
Some of the concerns addressed were hours of operation and overcrowding in the Stephens Fitness Center. With the upcoming changes to the academic calendar, Ward broached the idea of closing the fitness center an hour earlier — 12 a.m. instead of 1 a.m. — to allow for an earlier opening time.
The idea was mainly met with disapproval as students brought forth concerns about the impact on students’ workouts and group scheduling. Class of 2021 Senator Kevin Zheng said that students may wish to work out after finishing an assignment with a midnight deadline. U-Councilor Isabella Faccone ’21 said the time change would limit valuable rehearsal space for dance groups on campus.
To mitigate the issue of overcrowding, Dillon Gym is discontinuing its membership programs for community members. While the change was met with what Ward called “hate emails” over the summer, students expressed support for the move. Class of 2021 Senator Elizabeth Bailey said students expressed frustration with the space being taken up by people “with no affiliation to Princeton.”
Later, Students for Prison Education and Reform representatives Masha Miura ’21 and Leila Ullmann ’21 spoke on voting rights for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. Citing the disenfranchisement of 100,000 people in New Jersey, they sought support from USG for increasing student engagement on campus.
“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” said Miura. “We really want to emphasize that we are not trying to make this a partisan issue.”
While Academic Chair Olivia Ott ’20 noted that USG normally “does not comment collectively as a body on external issues,” Campus and Community Affairs Chair Caleb Visser ’20 noted the possibility of a resolution in support of SPEAR’s efforts.
“[This issue] is something where we can see substantial change, it’s something that’s affecting our immediate community,” said Visser. He encouraged students to “take a trip to Trenton, go down to the assembly, engage.”
The Senate voted to approve the consent agenda, which confirmed Christina Wang ’22 to the Communications Committee. The agenda also reconfirmed Mahishan Gnanaseharan ’20, Sarah Deneher ’20, Aisha Tahir ’21, Annie Sullivan-Crowley ’21, Jenna Shaw ’20, and Eliza Wright ’19 to the Campus and Community Affairs Committee. To the Academics Committee, the Senate reconfirmed Andrew Ma ’19, Samantha Zalewska ’19, Yoni Schoenberg ’19, Nicholas Ritter ’20, Sarah Malik ’20, and Sara Hailu ’21.