Students who work out at the Health Education Center, the gym on campus, pay quarterly fees to use the HEC’s equipment if they aren’t enrolled in physical education classes.
The Office of Student Life leaders have contemplated the idea that the $15 quarterly fee students currently pay to use the gym could be replaced with a nominal charge as part of the fees students pay each quarter when registering for classes. The HEC would then be open to all students instead of just the students who pay the use fee each quarter.
“It could encourage more students to use it because they are paying for it,” ASPCP President Ethan Christensen said.
This school year’s student leaders are studying the possible restructuring of how students pay to use the HEC, but any proposals of a change will depend on next school year’s student leaders’ interest in pursuing these possible changes because of the limited time left in this academic year.
The process to change how students are charged to use the HEC is lengthy. Next year’s student leadership team may propose a fee change for college officials’ consideration, and if approved, the proposed restructuring of students’ fees must be voted on by the students at both campuses. This is because the HEC fee structure should be similar at the Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom campuses. If students at both campuses approve the change, the college’s Board of Trustees would need to support the proposed fee restructure before any changes could be implemented.
The Puyallup campus student leaders studying this possible change to the HEC fees gathered information on students’ opinions through a campuswide survey during winter quarter.
“We wanted an honest reason of why students don’t use the HEC,” Christensen said.
Of the 132 students surveyed by the student leaders, about 86 percent said they are aware a full gym/exercise facility is in the HEC, but only 34 percent said they use it.
The idea to restructure the fees is being considered because many students, who do work out routinely—often at local gyms, don’t use the Pierce College gym, Christensen said.
About 170 students pay the $15 quarterly fee to use the HEC during fall to spring quarters, said Puyallup’s HEC Manager Brian Kovacevich.
The number of people who use Puyallup’s HEC varies depending on the day of the week. Typically, about 95 students use the HEC Monday to Thursday, about 65 use it on Fridays and 10 on Saturdays, according to Kovacevich. The number increases to about 165 students who use the HEC if the students enrolled in PE classes are included. About five college employees use the HEC each weekday.
“I would say we get about 70 people in here every day,” Puyallup HEC employee Tanner Knutsen said.
The Fort Steilacoom campus HEC averages about 200 people per day.
The reasons students cited in the survey as to why they don’t use the HEC varied.
About 25 students responding to the student leaders’ survey said they don’t use the gym because they don’t have time.
Other students have said they don’t use the campus gym because it lacks the desired facilities. They want an indoor basketball court, bigger locker rooms and drop-in classes.
“Students would love to see other types of equipment such as a climbing wall, swimming pool and punching bags, but with the amount of space we have, it’s tough to fit all of that in our building,” Kovacevich said.
They also are uncomfortable working out in front of their peers.
“I honestly don’t like working out in front of people I sit next to in class all day,” said Puyallup campus student Amanda Clift, who is a local gym member.
Students pay $15 per quarter to work out at the HEC if they aren’t taking physical education classes, but all students already are charged mandatory HEC fees as part of their tuition and fees.
Students taking classes at the Puyallup campus pay $4.25 per credit to pay off the original loan to fund the building for the HEC, and students at the Fort Steilacoom campus pay $3.50 per credit for the building costs of their recreation center. The maximum fee charged to students at Fort Steilacoom is $35 and there isn’t a cap on the fees at the Puyallup campus.
The Puyallup campus HEC, which opened in 2006-07 school year, has a loan that’s expected to be paid off in June 2027.
In comparison to other local gyms, the Puyallup campus gym averages far fewer patrons. About 27 percent of the students in the campuswide survey said they have a membership at a local gym.
“I really don’t get why the students would choose to go to another gym,” Fort Steilacoom campus HEC manager Doug Carlson said.
In a recent poll of 20 random Pierce College Puyallup students who all work out at local gyms, 12 are members of the YMCA, five are members of LA Fitness and three are members of the Pierce College Puyallup gym.
“I go to the YMCA because I like to play basketball and the Puyallup campus only has the outdoor court,” Pierce College Puyallup student Kevin Brock said.
Most students said they would go to the Puyallup campus gym if it were open past 7 p.m.
Puyallup’s HEC is open 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday. It’s closed on Sunday.
“The only reason I do work out here is because the prices are so cheap,” Clift said.
The number of students who use the HEC might increase if a nominal fee was implemented, Christensen said.
“I think it would most likely streamline the process of usage for the HEC at both campuses,” Kovacevich said. “It would most likely encourage more students to use the facility because they now are paying a small fee for something that they may want to take advantage of.”
Many students also are not aware that the gym is affordable, available for students’ use and not just for physical education classes.
“I didn’t even know you could use that gym,” YMCA member and Pierce College Puyallup student Perla Acosta said. “I think they should advertise more because when I drive by the HEC it looks like a ghost town.”
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