CAROLYN STRANSKY, Staff Writer
Throughout the past week, the campus has been buzzing with ideas and opinions regarding the possibility of using the decommissioned Alliant Energy building across from the Sports Center as a new activity and recreational center.
A project team made up of various faculty, staff and students are currently attending club meetings hoping to hear from all parts of the student body. “We’re looking for student feedback and what you as the students think is important,” said Jenna Larsen’14 when she presented at the Student Athlete Advisory Committee meeting. “We’re figuring out how we can make this new building ‘Beloit.’”
Athletes on the project team, such as Larsen, play a unique role in this process. “We’ve been at a lot of other schools’ athletic centers,” said Associate Athletic Director and Men’s Soccer Head Coach Tim Schmeichen. “The fact we have traveled to these other schools and have seen Monmouth’s climbing wall or what Grinnell did with their new pool… gives us further perspective.”
Although the athletic department will be heavily involved in this process, the final facility won’t just be for athletes. “I see this as an opportunity to create a space where non-athletes, faculty, staff and athletes all come together to do everything from ultimate Frisbee to working out to yoga [or] meditation,” said Director of Athletics and Recreation Peggy Carl.
Because of Beloit’s status as a private institution, the college itself cannot go into debt by investing money into this project. Instead, Beloit relies on the alumni and donors to provide funding. Despite this fact, many students wonder why the college doesn’t try to direct money elsewhere.
“[Other problems on campus] aren’t going unnoticed,” said Director of Communications and Marketing Jason Hughes. “We’re looking at this because there is a very tight window. I don’t want to look back in five years, see something happening there, and regret not having at least looked into it. This is a building that could be something special and say something powerful about Beloit.”
Many students have also been questioning their involvement in this process, especially since no one currently attending the college will see direct benefits from this facility. “I know how the students feel, but this is a project that we would hope will, again, say something distinctive and powerful about Beloit… and I think our students can appreciate that,” said Hughes. “We hope this is a building that people will want to come back and see, especially since you can’t leave this campus and not come back.”
The projec team has not identified significant disadvantages to moving ahead with the process. “You know, if we don’t build the big open space, if we don’t provide an easy access to the building knowing we have to cross Highway 51, that will be a disadvantage,” said Carl. “As a conceptual program, I don’t think there are any. The disadvantages will only come if we do not do the right thing.”
Now the team is the middle of their “listening” phase with hopes of continuing to hear from a wide variety of staff, faculty and especially students. “There’s a lot of integrity to [the Alliant] building,” said Dean of Students Christina Klawitter’98 during her presentation at the Beloit Student Congress. “Maybe a pool on the top of anything isn’t the best idea, but we need to envision this process before we begin moving forward. What do we want in there? Rock wall, track, health and wellness center, an alumni hospitality room, big open areas, meeting spaces, anything. We want to know what you as the students have to say about this.”
If you would like your voice to be heard in this process, email Jason Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org) by the end of the week to be part of the “Living Focus Group.” As a member of this group, you would be asked to participate in six short, weekly online surveys about the benefits and downfalls of life as a student at Beloit College.