Grad students argue for longer PWG hours

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Photo by Brianna Loo .

Graduate students are taking a stand against the short hours of operation at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

Because graduate students do not live in the residential colleges, their only access to a gym is Payne Whitney, which is open 92 hours per week, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. The gym is open fewer hours per week than any other in the Ivy League.  In comparison Harvard’s university-wide gym is open 108 hours per week and Princeton’s gym is open 126.5 hours per week.

In September, the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) and Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) submitted a joint proposal to increase hours at Payne Whitney. Now, Yale administrators are looking into the costs of extending the gym’s hours later into the day.

“In my conversations with student leadership, I have clarified with them that the issue is access to health facilities in general, and that increasing the hours at Payne Whitney is one way of achieving that goal,” said Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews in an email. She added that her office is currently reviewing the proposal, after graduate and professional students have repeatedly called gym hours an important issue.

The GSA and GPSS joint proposal suggested leaving the gym open later on weekends — until 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 p.m. on Sundays.  Residential college gyms, on the other hand, are open 24 hours.

“Extending hours is something we’ve been pushing for some time,” said Graduate Student Assembly President Brian Dunican GRD ’15. “It’s an important part of quality of life and ties into our concerns about mental health and wellness.”

GPSS Advocacy Chair Lauren Tilton GRD ’16 said most graduate students do not have a place to work out in the evenings on weekends. Students at the School of Management and Medical School on the other hand, have access to gyms with extended hours at their respective schools. Tilton added that the GPSS consistently hears negative feedback about gym hours, which made the issue a priority this year.

“There shouldn’t be a disparity in access to different populations,” Tilton said. “We’re getting a lot of feedback from graduate and professional students that hours weren’t long enough.”

The GPSS and GSA joint proposal suggested extending Payne Whitney hours to 109 hours per week, the same number of hours that Dartmouth’s gym is open.

To determine if graduate students would use additional hours at Payne Whitney, the GPSS and GSA tested extended hours on Thursdays last November, said GSA Facilities and Healthcare Committee Chair Michelle Kriner GRD ’16. The number of graduate students attending these extended hours increased from 60 to 177 per night  over the course of the month.

Jose Gutierrez NUR ’16 said he would be more inclined to use Payne Whitney on the weekends if it were open later at night.

“A lot of people have more free time on the weekends and could probably use it to utilize the gym,” Gutierrez said.

Yale College students also expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of extended gym hours.

Jeemin Kwon ’17 said she prefers working out in Payne Whitney rather than in the residential college gyms.

“There’s more equipment, it’s less crowded, and it has a better atmosphere,” Kwon said. “They should totally extend hours. I would love to work out after five on Saturdays and Sundays.”

The proposal would extend Payne Whitney’s open hours by roughly 15 percent.

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