Now that the Advisory Neighborhood Commission has declined to support GW’s bid to permit outsiders to use the Health and Wellness Center, perhaps it’s a good time to wonder what GW should do with its virtually unused President’s Club locker rooms. One idea: let the faculty use them, at least until big-buck outsiders able to pay the steep $1,000 initiation fee and $700 annual dues can enter the HWC; or at least waive the large initiation fee to join the President’s Club.
The HWC’s luxurious President’s Club locker rooms – with enclosed stall showers, private wood-grain lockers, sauna and steam rooms – were built in hopes of preserving the substantial revenue flow from lawyers, lobbyists and others who could afford to be members of the President’s Club in the old Smith Center. But since zoning permits only furnishes GW people the right to enter the HWC, the President’s Club has been all but empty.
Indeed, many members of the faculty, including lots of teaching assistants and other who receive low pay, were outraged that for the first time in memory of most – and contrary to the policy at many other universities – they had to pay to use University athletic facilities. Thus, few have joined the HWC. Indeed, requests that the administration lower the basic fee was rejected because the fee structure is “designed to produce needed revenue.”
However, permitting faculty who are willing to pay the basic fee to also use the President’s Club facilities would produce even more revenue because fancy locker rooms will induce more faculty to join and pay at least the basic fee. It would also decrease resentment at having to pay for access to a previously free University resource.
Providing additional encouragement for faculty to join and use the on-campus HWC for regular exercise would also help reduce faculty medical costs, absences and time lost from work. It would encourage better student-faculty relations, since faculty can then invite their students to join them for a game of basketball or racquetball, or to share one of the many fitness classes offered.
In short, there are many good reasons for making productive use of these now virtually empty luxury locker rooms.
If you agree, please let GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz hear from you.
-The writer is GW professor of public interest law.