Allegheny College’s campus may soon include a convenience store and a new exercise area, according to Executive Vice President Eileen Petula. Petula said the renovations that have already taken place on campus may expand to other buildings and areas. These renovations may fall under the Allegheny Strategic Action Plan, a proposal that has been granted $10 million by the Board of Trustees, according to Allegheny College President James Mullen.
The renovations to residence halls depend on reports that will be given to students concerning what kind of living environments they want, Petula said.
“I noticed we have a lot of unused or underutilized space,” Petula said. “I hired a firm … to do deferred maintenance to help you identify how you use your buildings and how you officially use your buildings.”
The report from the firm showed there is a lot of unused space, according to Petula.
“We just need to think strategically,” Petula said. “Sometimes when you’re in a community and you know where things are, it’s a little harder to step out and think about where things could go.”
One of the larger changes to a building on Allegheny’s campus could be to Schultz Banquet Hall, according to Petula. The changes would affect Schultz Banquet Hall, as well as the Winslow Health Center and psychological services offered in Reis Hall.
“We have the health center, we have psychological services that are on two different parts of campus. The thoughts are to bring those two centers together into one location and … we came up with the idea of having a wellness center that not only would combine those two functions of the college, which are very important, but would also have an element of wellness and fitness in a different part of campus other than the Wise Center,” Petula said. “This is something I’ve heard everywhere I go, and there’s really just unanimous support for it.”
Along with exercise equipment, there would be space for dance, yoga and various other fitness classes in Schultz Hall, according to Petula. The choice to include exercise equipment and space came from possible overcrowding and discomfort in the Wise Center.
“When I go work out in the Wise Center, I notice that it’s crowded often,” Mullen said. “At other hours it’s not, but this is part of an opportunity here to create more opportunity for more students to be able to engage.”
Petula added that she had received some feedback from students explaining they are a bit intimidated when exercising at the Wise Center, as they feel the space is just for athletes.
Akeem Adesiji, ’20, expressed concern over adding exercise machinery to a different place on campus during an Allegheny Student Government meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
“I definitely don’t think it should be the solution as the athletes taking over the Wise Center because I doubt they’re going to put in anything nearly as good as what’s at the Wise Center,” Adesiji said.
ASG Vice President Valerie Hurst, ’18, met with the Allegheny Master Planning Committee to discuss these possible changes.
“They’re also trying to focus more on freshmen who are living in Schultz,” Hurst said. “They want it to be an attractive place to reside.”
Although the plan may benefit the first-year class, Zach Javorsky, ’18, said the changes might not have the same effect on upperclassmen, specifically seniors.
“They’re considering this as a solution to the problem of the athletes taking over the gym,” Javorsky said. “From the senior class perspective, I don’t see this as a solution. There are a lot of seniors who would not walk from North Village to Schultz when the Wise Center is right there. I think a concern they need to keep in mind is the majority of the upperclassmen live on the opposite of campus.”
Petula said she has also heard some concern about the need to create a new place for fitness on campus, as well as concern over other additions to Schultz Banquet Hall, which could include a convenience store and a healthy food grab and go option.
“The fitness facility has been mostly positive, but a couple people have concerned about if we need wellness as well as fitness in other parts of campus,” Petula said. “In terms of the grab and go, there’s a kiosk in Pelletier, we have McKinley’s, we have Brooks. Can this support another food option? Would it have the volume?”
If the renovation to Schultz Banquet Hall includes a place to buy food, the food will likely be provided through Parkhurst, according to Petula. However, Allegheny may partner with an outside source like Walmart to supply the convenience store, Petula said.
While renovations may be made in part for more exercise space and accessibility, the main goal is for inclusivity, according to Petula.
“[We want to] find a way for us to vet this through the student body to see how this idea would resonate with the students in terms of: is this something you would find desirable?” Petula said. “Any building that is renovated, my goal would be to make it more accessible, not only for mobility issues but for inclusivity concerns.”