UWT Survey Reveals Student Concerns over New YMCA

A recent online survey asked students how they felt about the proposed YMCA on campus. Student surveys are the main tool used to establish where UW Tacoma students stand on important issues such as this, and 568 students participated.

467 students (82.2 percent) responded: “Yes, this is great,” to the question of whether or not they would support “a new student center with expanded fitness facilities, new student lounges and social spaces, expanded food options, and larger spaces for programs and student organizations.”

15.5 percent of the participants (88 students) said that “Yes, this might be a good idea. I’d like to know more.” 13 students said, “No, I do not support building a new student center.”

The survey also included specific questions about amenities students would want in a student center, which will be considered in the construction of the YMCA.

When asked, “Would you be willing to pay $180 per quarter to have all the above services in the new student center, including membership to the YMCA?” 210 students, or 36.9 percent, said “Yes, this is a great idea.” 43.1 percent, or 245 students, wanted to know more about it, and that it might be a good idea, and 19.9 percent, or 113 students, did not support it. This fee will not be added until 2015, when the YMCA building is finished.

82.2 percent of the 568 students support the proposed partnership that would bring a YMCA to UW Tacoma, and while this is only about 13 percent of UW Tacoma’s population, Ed Mirecki, Director of Student Involvement, said that compared to many other surveys, this one is “pretty phenomenal. We don’t usually get those kind of response rates.”

Mirecki said that the survey was the main resource in getting student feedback about the project, and that finding ways to communicate the details to students can be difficult. The survey responses are “very valuable information for us,” said Mirecki, adding that they use the data to help make decisions.

What would have happened if the survey revealed the opposite results? “We wouldn’t have had a Y,” Mirecki stated. “Of course it wasn’t an official vote: that was done through the Service and Activity Fee Committee. But student input into this is what’s driving the whole process.”

Mirecki also explained that this process has been ongoing for a number of years and was made possible only recently through the YMCA partnership. Mirecki said that without the partner, including amenities students want, like lounges, recreational room, and a bigger gym, would have resulted in about twice the quarterly fee.

The next steps will continue with the design and build phase, with “an architecture firm and a contractor working together to develop a design,” Mirecki explained, adding that in June, proposed designs will be submitted to the student center planning committee for further input.

Survey takers not in support of the YMCA and student center cited reasons such as price, convenience, and practicality. Many said the $180 fee is too steep for one student that wouldn’t allow family or guests, and doesn’t benefit those that already have memberships to other gyms. The fact that not all students would be able or want to utilize the services was also mentioned. Childcare was a big concern. Others asked if a sliding scale could be used for low income students who couldn’t afford the higher tuition, and still others explained that instead of a YMCA and student center, multimedia study rooms would be more useful to campus.

While the new center will contain much more than a YMCA, several students are not convinced of its benefits as of yet. Mireki said that the design choices in June will help provide students with a tangible idea of what the center would have to offer.

If students missed the survey or want their voice heard about the campus YMCA, Mirecki encourages them to contact ASUWT.