Alex Kanya ’22
As Holy Cross students returned to campus to start the second semester of this academic year, the campus was abuzz with change as a campus fixture closed its doors for the last time. The Field House was originally opened in March of 1948, and was home to the Varsity Volleyball team until 2015. The end of this historic building marks yet another significant renovation that the College is undertaking, as a new Recreation and Wellness Center will eventually be installed on the site for use by the entire student body.
The new design includes an upper level jogging track “that looks out on the hills of Worcester,” as well as weight and cardio equipment on multiple levels. Further features include basketball courts, exercise studios, weight training rooms, improved shower and locker space, and general “centers for a wide assortment of health, wellness, and fitness programming.”
The response to this new dynamic within the recreation community on campus has been polarizing, with many students taking issue with the newly very limited options to non-athletes who still seek fitness opportunities. An Instagram account called “HC Gains…Or Not!,” was created, devoted to holding the administration accountable to the entire student body, not just Holy Cross’ Division I student-athletes. This student-led movement directly worked with the Office of Recreation and Wellness to create new policies that level the playing field for non-varsity students, such as improved signage to increase awareness of the newly established fitness facilities on campus, moving storage areas out of the fitness areas in order to free up more space for student use, and collaborating with SGA to sponsor shuttle services to nearby gyms in the Worcester area.
Mark Edwards ’21 remarks “Personally, I see this new situation as ridiculous… It is a chance for me to spend hours researching alternative methods of training in order to sufficiently complete my workout regimen. I can get more cardio in every day by walking from Hart down to Loyola to almost complete a basic workout schedule… It is a shame that after paying an astronomical amount of money to attend this school, I am expected to remain silent day in and day out as I wait in lines in these storage closets we are calling gyms. I can no longer say, ‘I am going to get a quick workout in.’ Rather, I need to set aside multiple hours to ensure that I can get a good half-workout in, because some of the essential weights and machines I used in the Field House did not make it to either Hart or Loyola.”
In response to some of the student backlash, Mike Leavitt, Director of Wellness and Recreation for the College, states that, “Students have come with feedback, and we invite them to continue with that…Some things can be fixed quickly, while others just take time.” He also affirmed that the state-of-the-art Luth Center cannot necessarily be compared with the Field House, and expressed confidence that “the playing field will be leveled when the new [Recreation and Wellness Center] is completed.”