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DuPont Weight Room Gets Extended Hours

By James M. Wahl
Staff Reporter

In an effort to bolster its strength training program, the athletic department finalized new hours for the DuPont weight room on Tuesday.

The new schedule comes after students reacted negatively to two earlier proposals that they said excluded non-athletes.

The new schedule designates a 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. time slot on weekdays reserved for student athletes.

The department has also added hours for community use by extending the closing time on weekdays from 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and by staying open on Fridays from 7:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Weekend hours remain the same: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

The change reflects what many coaches see as a dire need for a dedicated time to introduce new athletes to the weight room and to conduct structured training routines, said Athletic Director Richard A. Hill.

For several years, "coaches have lamented that they can never get in to the weight room with their entire team. Even if they send students in to lift on an individual basis, there is a huge intimidation factor," says Candace L. Royer, senior women's administrator in the department.

The newly established time slot will provide a less crowded environment where athletes can get specialized instruction and do circuit training routines where several different exercises must be performed in succession with little rest in between, Hill said.

Schedules cause controversy

The new schedule is a finalized version of two earlier attempts. The first schedule, posted two weeks ago, stated that new "varsity hours" would be from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and from 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. every weekday.

Hill said he never intended to have more than one time period dedicated to athletes. Also, the 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. period was to be for all competitive sports, not just varsity athletics.

New signs were posted, explaining the mistake. But because of the popularity of the 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. time period, complaints continued and flyers were posted protesting the new hours.

Two days later, Hill held an impromptu meeting where people affected by the change could express their concerns.

"That meeting caused us to meet as a management team and listen to their points. We took the middle ground and chose the 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. time period for athletes and tried to be considerate to everyone, especially our employees that lift after work and our athletes that need to be going to an exam or to a study session later in the night," Royer said.

Improvements expected

Expanded hours and improved training for athletes aside, the issue on many peoples' minds is the dilapidated condition of the weight room and its equipment, most of which was purchased with a $20,000 contribution in the late 80s.

"The air conditioning breaks down. The floor is getting dangerous, and that smell is quite obnoxious," said Andrew J. Rhomberg G.

Anke M. Friedrich G, who represents the Graduate Student Council on the athletic board and brought the issue up at the board's first meeting, agreed.

"In general people are very dissatisfied with the weight room. Ten years ago, it may have been enough to have one weight room. But now, lifting is much more popular; it's what people are doing in the 90s," she said.

Hill acknowledged the problems. "The weight room has been sort of a lackluster area that has been undergoing a lot of use and pressure," he said.

In 1992, when Hill became athletic director, "we had no money for personnel - there was always a shortfall," he says. "I think we've come a long way. We're open more and we've provided opportunities for students to earn money. Each year we refurbish the equipment."

In the coming months, "we are going to look to repair the floors, get the room at least painted, and see if we can't develop another dedicated area for just power lifting," he said.

Hill will have to persuade some cynics first, though. Rhomberg said that although the athletic department is quick to promise change, "It takes them forever to do even the most basic things."

"We're definitely going to move on [the improvements]," Hill said. "We are trying to do as much as we can to make the best of a very difficult challenge."