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USG, architecture firm discuss Dillon Gym renovations

USG members hear a presentation in their March 1 meeting. Photo by Caitlin Limestahl / The Daily Princetonian
USG members hear a presentation in their March 1 meeting. Photo by Caitlin Limestahl / The Daily Princetonian

In their March 1 meeting, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) engaged in discussions with representatives of DIGSAU, an architecture firm working with the University on Dillon Gymnasium’s expansion and renovation. 

According to their presentation, some of the goals of Dillon Gym’s renovations are to “expand the availability of recreation spaces and activities for campus and community use, improve the experience of all Dillon Gymnasium users, and develop a hub for campus wellness to benefit all Princeton students and University community members.”

The Senate suggested new features and improvements they would like to see at the gym, including better ventilation and lighting throughout the building, larger spaces for rock climbing, revamped squash courts, more prox-accessible entryways, and bigger rooms for fitness classes, yoga, and strength and conditioning exercises.

Sustainability Chair Claire Wayner ’22 suggested soundproof rooms to address the current issue of early morning group fitness classes disturbing students in nearby residential halls. 

Claire Wayner is an Opinion columnist for The Daily Princetonian.  

Senator Tom Salotti ’21, a member of the club squash team, spoke to the experience of playing on the current squash courts. 

“The squash courts are pretty shitty,” Salotti said. “Clearly not a lot of money is invested in them anymore. When it gets humid out, the doors will expand and you will get stuck in the squash court.”

He emphasized his hope for the courts to be improved — not done away with.

“I think that taking away the squash courts would be the final blow to club squash, especially when Varsity’s in season we can’t use their courts at all,“ he added. “So I’m hesitant to say we turn that space into something completely different.”

Salotti is a Head Sports Editor for The Daily Princetonian.  

DIGSAU representative Elizabeth Kahley asked for thoughts on spaces that could encourage student presence in Dillon Gym for recreation and general wellness outside of fitness activities. 

“I’m always surprised to see students studying in the tables outside of the locker room,” U-Councilor Julia Garaffa ’23 said. “I think it would be nice to have a social area, because people just have to study all the time here, so giving [students] a really comfortable space to do that would really bring them to the gym.”

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The issue of sports equipment storage and accessibility was raised, with Olivia Ott ’20 suggesting that students be able to access the storage room without having to go through campus recreation. Personal locker size and item storage was also discussed, with Garaffa noting that in her experience, there isn’t enough room for a coat, backpack, and sports bag to fit in the lockers. 

Other items on the meeting’s agenda included hearing updates from task force representatives.

Senator Bradley Phelps ’22 of the Community Dining Task Force said he met with the President of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA) and spoke to Mayor Liz Lempert about moving forward with the task force’s goal of making community dining more accessible for lower-income students. 

“He’s [PMA President Jack Morrison] really committed to it, and they’re willing to spend resources to make our project work. The community is really behind it. I also spoke with the mayor, and she really wants this to happen, so it sounds like we’re going to actually be doing some presentations in the next few months to these individual groups to secure their support.” 

It was also announced that the Mental Health Task Force’s Mental Health Guidebook will be published on Monday, March 2. 

Near the end of the meeting, President Chitra Parikh ’21 and U-Councilor Allen Liu ’22 gave a presentation on a future “Ideas Incubator” that will help students unaffiliated with USG introduce ideas for campus change and assist them throughout the processes. The USG member “matched” to the student would help organize meetings with appropriate departments and department members to turn the student’s idea into action. 

The meeting was held in Lewis Library 138 at 7 p.m.