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Why the Exercise Expense?

Dear President Erickson,

As a student at our great university, I am writing to you with an issue that I have found to be too important to go unquestioned. Last semester, many of my classes focused on the topic of “exercise” as part of Exercise is Medicine Week here at Penn State. As part of this week, students are taught of the many great advantages of exercise and are encouraged to do just that, exercise. Although I paid for a gym membership, this made me think about the students who don’t have a gym membership here at Penn State. I then realized that something of this nature should be covered by the tuition I, and every other student for that matter, pay to go to this university.

To back up my argument, I did research on similar schools to Penn State, such as the Ohio State University where all students are able to use gym facilities as part of there tuition. May I also add that Ohio State’s tuition is $2500 cheaper than Penn State per semester for both instate and out-of-state students. I found this to be absolutely outrageous. With Penn State having the second-highest tuition in the Big Ten (the only higher tuition being Northwestern University), why should I have to pay extra in order to be able to workout at a university facility that I pay to attend?

To make sure I wasn’t the only one outraged by this ridiculous monstrosity, I decided to poll my fellow students on the subject. During my survey, I found that 74% of my classmates also have a gym membership here. This statistic makes it seem as if only a few students didn’t go out of the way to obtain a gym membership, but when over 40,000 people go to school at University Park it means that over 10,500 students did not purchase memberships. Next, students were asked if they planned to renew their gym memberships when the time comes. Not surprisingly, only 70% of students planned to do so.

Although this may or may not be because of the price of the membership, it is important to consider that these students will not have access to university fitness facilities, which is the main point. After that question, students were then asked if gym memberships should be free at Penn State. In this occasion, 84% of students said that they should. These 84% of students who agree with me know the importance of the ability to use a fitness facility at a university we pay more than enough to go to without the extra cost, and I’m sure the other 16% would agree if they knew the facts previously presented. Finally, with the most important question of the survey, students who do not have gym memberships at Penn State were asked if they would use the fitness facilities if memberships were free. Not surprisingly, 92% of students said that they would. This means that out of the estimated 10,500 students who do not have gym memberships, 9,660 of them would use Penn State fitness facilities if there were no cost of membership.

I believe that the results of the survey done by the student body show all the more reason why it is important to consider the price of membership to use these facilities. With this minor fee in the eyes of the university taken away, the health of the student body as a whole would improve dramatically. The benefits that this would bring upon our university surpass unbelievably the amount of money that students pay annually to use such facilities. Since we’ve established the benefits that alleviating the gym membership fee would bring upon the university and the demand that the student body has for it, the only thing left to do is to establish how to go about doing it.

It is obvious that the gym facilities at Penn State need to have some sort of funding for maintenance and other various expenses. Yet, making every student who wants to use this facilities pay the unreasonable sum of $105 annually is unreasonable. In order to solve this dilemma, I propose a small fee of $10 to be included in the price of tuition for students at University Park. If this minor and mediocre fee were to be paid under tuition by every student, over $400,000 would be available for the maintenance and upkeep of our university’s gym facilities annually. This is more than enough to ensure that the facilities remain maintained. If even this extraordinary amount of funding is found to be insufficient, it only makes sense to me that the revenue generated from the various money-making sports at Penn State, such as football, basketball, baseball, hockey, volleyball, soccer, and wrestling to name a few, should be placed back into the general athletics fund for the entire student body. After all, sixty million dollars is generated annually from football alone. Because of this, I see the solutions for the funding of the on-campus recreational and gym facilities to be more than abundant and full of promise.

With that said, I feel now more than ever that this decision is one that should be easily made. Quite simply, it is something that should have been done for this university and its students years ago. As students and human beings for that matter, we have the right to maintain the healthiness of our bodies. At our own university, this should come of no extra cost to us. I, a Penn State University student, am simply demanding for something to be done that is only right and just for my fellow students of this great university. That being said, would you rather say that you are the president of a university with one of the countries healthiest student bodies, or the president of the only university in the Big Ten who makes its students pay to maintain their health?

Thank you for your time,

Joseph Cassaro

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