The new Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Ball State University, Muncie, IN, is seeing less traffic this summer because students who must pay a $90 fee to use it are instead using the older Ball Gymnasium. The older facility does not require a fee because it is already completely funded.

When the new recreation center opened during the fall 2010 semester, administrators began charging the fee after students unanimously approved a resolution to do so.

Some students were confused about whether they would have to pay a fee to use the new facility if they were not taking classes, says Jason Adamowicz, associate director of recreation services. The fee is automatically charged students when they enroll in classes for a semester, but students not enrolled in classes pay separately to use the facility.

"We learned last year, the first summer the new recreation center was opened, that students assumed they had the same access," Adamowicz says. "This year, we did more of a push to educate them that if they are in classes, don't worry because it is the same, but if they were in between semesters, they were going to have to pay [to use the facility]."

The fee to use the new facility was charged to students not enrolled in classes to try to make it fair to students who are taking summer classes and were charged the recreation fee with their tuition, Bernard M. Hannon, associate vice president and business affairs treasurer, told BSU Daily News.

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Though Ball Gymnasium and the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center do not compare in square feet or their offerings, the Ball Gymnasium option gives students an option for working out if they do not want to pay the fee, Adamowicz says.

"It’s a great thing to offer those pre-existing facilities as another option," he says. "Because those buildings were funded through another budget process, the operations of those facilities were already covered in another budget that has nothing to do with the recreation center fee."

Recognized as one of the 2012 Outstanding Sports Facilities by the National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association, the new recreation center focuses on other comprehensive programs directed toward university employees and their families during the summer to offset the lag in student participation.

"We know our traffic is going to be down a little bit, and we believe in this university and utilizing our resources efficiently," Adamowicz says.

Programs such as day camps and swimming lessons help utilize the facilities that had participation drop from 100,000 in the busy months of January and February to 25,000 in the first summer month of May.

"Ball State values our employees, so we want to have comprehensive programming for them as well," Adamowicz says. "To do that, you also have to have family offerings. We have been doing that for close to 20 years now."