Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

December 6, 2001

New policy restricts use of Trees pools by spouses & children of University faculty

Pitt's vice provost for Faculty Affairs is seeking "further clarification" of a policy change that bars faculty members' spouses and children from using the Trees Hall swimming pools except as part of supervised community fitness programs.

Before this fall, the pools had been open — officially, if not always in practice — to faculty spouses and as many as two children per faculty member, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon-4 p.m. on weekends.

Vice Provost Andrew R. Blair said: "Basically, I'm trying to clarify what the faculty's family privileges are at the Trees pools, and how this new policy came about." Blair said he will pass along his findings to economics professor Herbert Chesler, who co-chairs the University Senate benefits and welfare committee.

Chesler asked Blair to investigate the policy change after learning about it during the Nov. 27 Faculty Assembly meeting from fellow Assembly member Marilyn L. Ross, Pitt co-director of Intramurals and Recreation.

"Without further study, I don't want to say that the new policy is unreasonable," Chesler said after the meeting. "But I feel very strongly that the Senate must insist that any change which denies to the faculty and their spouses a benefit or privilege that they had been enjoying has to go through the proper channels of review, including the governance system of the Senate.

"Such a change should not be made by administrative fiat, as this one apparently was."

Ross emphasized that Intramurals and Recreation has not entirely barred employees' family members from Trees Hall pools: For fees of $48 or less per term, they may participate in a variety of supervised programs, including swimming, scuba and kinderkinetics.

"What we can't have anymore are spouses and children running around Trees Hall without supervision, using what is essentially a student facility as a family play area," Ross said. "The pools are just too crowded these days with athletic team practices and a greatly expanded number of student recreation and community programs."

Under the old policy, which dated back at least to the 1960s, spouses and children accompanied by faculty could use the Trees pools during certain posted hours. But in practice, Ross said, faculty often would beg off accompanying their family members — who, after being allowed into Trees Hall to use the pool, would sometimes compete with students for time on basketball and volleyball courts and weightlifting equipment.

Pitt Risk Management staff pointed out that the University could be liable for injuries suffered by family members using Trees Hall without supervision, Ross added.

"The University's policy is that [employees'] spouses and children are not allowed to use any athletic facility at Pitt, except for certain supervised recreation programs," she said.

The policy that allowed family members free use of the Trees pools was a carryover from a time when Pitt facilities were far less busy, according to Ross.

Chesler did not dispute that. But he insisted, "To institute a change like this, you need to go through proper channels and convince people that the change is necessary. The burden of proof is on the administration."

Chesler credited Vice Provost Blair with recently restoring library borrowing privileges and campus bus access to spouses of Pittsburgh campus employees. The administration inadvertently cut off those privileges last winter when it issued new I.D. cards to staff and faculty. See Nov. 8 University Times.

"Andy Blair was the one who worked out the problem of the I.D. cards. I'm hoping that he will intercede in this [Trees pool] issue, too, and that it will get resolved without any intervention by the Senate," said Chesler.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 34 Issue 8

Leave a Reply