“This is going to create a healthy environment for our students,” Associate Dean and Director of Student Life Susan Dimonda said regarding the new Campus Recreation Center that has taken shape between the Sports Complex and the Student Union. “It’s going to be the hot place on campus, a state-of-the-art facility. Our peer institutions have these facilities, so us not having them makes a difference.”
The recreation center, which will open in the fall of 2012, has been a facility conceived and planned for the past thirteen years. “I’ve been working on this project since 1999,” Dimonda explained at a press conference on March 21. “Back in 1999, students were coming to us complaining about the lack of space for basic open rec or participation with their sports clubs, or just be able to come and recreate or do anything.”
In 1999, DiMonda went on tours with students to the University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University, where students saw that SBU needs similar facilities for recreation. “We started the process in 1999, I think that’s at the time when the athletic program went to Division I and there was more demand on the facilities.”
“Undergraduate students deserve to have their own facility,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Matt Larsen said at the same conference. “Certainly the rec center is a huge boost.”
The center has always been an idea whose existence is owed to student input. “Back in 2000 students voted to pay to build the facility. They voted to tax themselves $75 once the building opened, to build the facility back in 2000,” Dimonda said. “And that I think spoke volumes to the legislature, that our students are willing to pay for it.” For the 2012-2013 academic year, the University is proposing an increase of $95.50 per semester for undergraduate students, with $75 of it slated for the CRC.
Students from all levels and areas of the campus have been involved with the creation of the center. “Students were complaining about similar things. So in response to that, we sat down with the Undergraduate Student Government to talk about it,” Dimonda said, “and that’s when we decided to go on the tours and look at other campuses that had just recently built facilities. They went there, they saw the energy in the building.”
The CRC will be run mainly by students, who will perform jobs from operating administrative tasks to refereeing games and teaching some of the classes. “This facility, when we open, will be hiring about 75 additional students. That’s about $400,000 that will go directly into the pockets of students,” Dimonda said. These 75 new student employees will join an existing number of 125, making Campus Recreation the third largest employer at Stony Brook. “We’ve been meeting with students, we’ve talked with them about what they want in the facility. We’ve had an active advisory board made up of students from across campus. We meet monthly to talk about everything from what’s going to go into the facility.”
Alexandra Harouche Rubio, a senior who currently teaches ab-attack and beach body blast classes in the SAC, is excited for “the big studios, the spin studio, and not having a limit to fitness classes. For me that’s the exciting part about it, bigger space, more classes.”
“A university this size, with 25,000 students, you need a rec center that’s going to help us recruiting prospective student-athletes, and I think it’s going to help the admissions office in recruiting students to attend Stony Brook,” Larsen said.
The center received its initial funding in 2007 but did not obtain the remaining $18 million of its overall $37.5 million budget. “It just took us this long to get the funding. The biggest challenge was getting the funding,” Dimonda said.
The CRC is going to be a state-of-the-art facility, with features such as a wireless network and air conditioning throughout the entire building. It will be open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
“I think this will be heavily used by our students,” Dimonda said, “the SAC is the place to be now, the rec center is going to be the next place to be.”