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May 30, 2002

Petersen recreation facilities will be limited to student use

Faculty and staff won't be working out at the Petersen Events Center, Pitt's chief spokesperson has indicated.

Besides housing a 12,500-seat arena, the Petersen Center will feature a student recreation center complete with four racquetball and two squash courts, weight machines, a free-weight area, an aerobics area with treadmills and stationary bikes, and a martial arts practice room.

University Senate leaders want faculty and staff to enjoy the same access as students to Petersen Center recreation facilities. But Robert Hill, vice chancellor for Public Affairs, told the University Times: "The Petersen Events Center's recreation center is for students." He declined further comment.

The Senate's benefits and welfare committee is worried that, as the University builds new recreation facilities and relocates others — part of Pitt's strategy to attract and retain students –employees will be denied access.

Faculty Assembly members approved a resolution May 7 instructing the Senate's executive committee to ask Chancellor Mark Nordenberg for a prompt response to their request that faculty, staff and students enjoy equal access to Petersen Center recreation facilities.

The resolution was proposed by Herbert Chesler, co-chairperson of the Senate benefits and welfare committee. He said his committee asked Pitt senior administrators months ago to address its concerns.

"We've asked the administration for a response, but we have not received one," Chesler said. "In fact, no response is a response. It means 'no,' but I don't want to accept that.

"We made a very simple request. Let's get a response."

Recently, Pitt trustees approved spending $5.1 million during the next three years to renovate athletic facilities in Trees Hall and the Fitzgerald Field House.

Those renovations — combined with extended hours at Bellefield Hall's exercise facilities — are giving faculty and staff more access to campus recreation than ever before, said Pitt intramurals co-director and clinical instructor Marilyn L. Ross, herself a member of Faculty Assembly.

Even if employees can't use the Petersen Center recreation center, Ross said, they now enjoy equal access with students to the following facilities:

* The Field House jogging track and squash courts.

* Trees Hall's downstairs weight room (formerly used by Pitt's football team, which has relocated to the UPMC sports complex on the South Side) plus Trees' upstairs weight room, gym and Olympic-size swimming pool.

* The Bellefield Hall pool, gym, weight room and aerobics room. Until last term, faculty and staff could work out at Bellefield Hall only during limited hours. But, since January, employees and students have enjoyed equal access, Ross said.

During the fall and spring terms, the Field House, Trees Hall and Bellefield Hall recreation facilities normally are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (except for the Trees pool, which employees can use only from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.). But hours are reduced during the summer.

Current hours are posted at the intramurals website: — Bruce Steele

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