September 28, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 52°F


Change in rock climbing wall hours overcrowds Fitness Center

Correction: Rock climbing passes are $30 per semester not $15.

Fingers shaking and legs extended, a student stretches his arm up to grab the next blue stone on the rock climbing wall. His hand grips the piece as his core tightens, and he thrusts his body upwards. He reaches closer to the top of the wall in the Fitness Center.

ICircus rehearses Sept. 14 downstairs in the Fitness Center. Creating a chandelier requires a large amount of space — something the club cannot always find with the new schedule. Erin Irby/The Ithacan

On the wooden floor below, members of ICircus must ignore those climbing while they practice flipping, juggling and creating human pyramids. In the aerobics room upstairs, 50 members of the Sword Team of Ithaca College must be on constant guard as they dodge swinging swords in the cramped room.

In the past, ICircus and STOIC had few problems with finding practice space in the gym. When the schedule for rock climbing changed this year, though, students were suddenly faced with inconvenient times and room sizes too small.

The Fitness Center changed the rock climbing hours this year — now Monday through Friday and Sundays, at different times every day — to better suit student and faculty schedules.

Sarah Hawkins, program coordinator for recreational sports at the college, said the change was meant to make the rock wall a more accessible activity.

“We’re trying to drum up more business, to find more popular times for people to use the climbing wall,” she said.

Senior Tom Healy, student rock climbing wall coordinator, said the cost of the wall puts the Fitness Center in debt, but with the new hours people are buying more $ 15 semester passes.

“We have been slowly getting more people [at the wall],” he said. “We are trying to pull more people in so that the wall can kind of start paying for itself.”

Students were not aware of the change in the rock climbing schedule last year when clubs were required to submit practice-time request forms. As a result, Hawkins said she had little guidance as to what times would be appropriate for each club when creating the schedule.

“The times requested are not necessarily guaranteed to the club, but I always try to accommodate people,” she said. “In looking at the schedule this year, I had completely different time zones to work with.”

There are limited time blocks that Hawkins can distribute among the many clubs on campus. Scheduling for all of the recreational activities at the college is always a challenge, as dance teams, sports and recreational clubs share the same spaces in the Fitness and Hill centers.

ICircus is experiencing the most problems with its new practice from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday, because many members are in class or at work.

Senior Alexandra Binek, co-president of the club, said the change in schedule might alter the number of performances the club can give.

“It will affect the amount of things we can do because usually if we have a show on the weekend, we would put it together at the Thursday practice,” she said. “Now that not as many members can come, we will have to work around that.”

Senior Jess Lipscomb, co-president of ICircus, said it is too early to tell how the Friday practice will affect the club’s size.

“It’s almost like the Friday practice doesn’t count, so it’s really hard to say how that has changed the number of members,” she said.

STOIC’s practice was moved to the aerobics room, but the space cannot accommodate the record 50 people that showed up to participate at the first meeting.

Senior Geoff Raywood, president of STOIC, said the room was too small for that many people to be practicing Samaria fighting.

“We somehow managed to get everyone in, but we were all tucked-in as tightly as we could,” he said. “As a general rule, having 50 people in that small of a space wielding four-foot swords is just not going to happen.”

Raywood said after STOIC requested its practice be moved to another location, the club relocated to the wrestling room in the Hill Center. But he said he is unsure if this change could remain permanent because of demand for the room in the future.

Hawkins said with the rock wall hours as they are, there is little the Fitness Center can do to better the situation.

“[These times] are what I’m given,” Hawkins said. “It’s either we use them, or we don’t have practice. It’s unfortunate, but we are trying to [accommodate] as many students as possible.”