Witt Center expands hours to serve needs of studentsBy Bennett Stansell | 10/15/2017 9:07pm
University of Alabama students have a variety of morning rituals. For those who need a double shot of espresso to start their day, or for those who need to catch a couple extra z’s before catching a bus, there are options. But for students who want to exercise early in the morning, their options have been limited until now.
Students that frequent the Robert E. Witt Student Activity Center were frustrated with the gym’s hours. Opening at 11 a.m. during the week, these students found it hard to get a workout in before starting their day.
As of Oct. 2, that is no longer a concern. The Witt Center now opens its doors at 7 a.m., Monday-Friday, providing students with more opportunities to exercise earlier in the morning.
The decision to expand the Witt Center’s hours of operation was precipitated in large part due to a student movement spearheaded by Price McGiffert, Student Government Association vice president of external affairs, among other SGA officers. McGiffert took on the cause after hearing complaints from multiple students that the Witt Center’s limited hours made it difficult for them to fit working out into their busy daily schedules.
“When I had the interviews for people who were going to be in my cabinet, three people mentioned this,” McGiffert said. “They all said that they lived in Presidential Village and that they wanted to work out in the morning.”
During the summer, McGiffert called the Witt Center directly and set up a meeting with Andre Love, executive director of University Recreation and David Grady, vice president for student affairs. Upon meeting with Love and Grady, McGiffert and Mollie Gillis, SGA vice president for student affairs, were informed that the Witt Center did not receive enough funding to start operating earlier in the morning.
In order to garner the needed funding, McGiffert contacted Robert Witt, chancellor of the University of Alabama Systems and the namesake of the Witt Center, as well as Lynda Gilbert, vice president of financial affairs. After several meetings, McGiffert was able to secure the funding, with $25,000 being contributed by the Office of Financial Affairs and an additional $2,000 coming from the SGA.
With the additional funding in hand, Love wasted no time hiring additional staff to work the expanded hours. For Love, the change in hours will help the Witt Center serve more students.
“It’s definitely an opportunity to accommodate more people and their varying schedules, as far as their availability to work out and as a whole,” Love said. “It’s another opportunity to be engaged in what we do and take opportunities to engage in healthy, balanced lifestyles.”
Most parts of the Witt Center - including the weight room, cardio area and basketball courts - are open and accessible to students starting at 7 a.m. The rock climbing wall, will maintain regular hours of operation, opening at 2 p.m. on most days.
During the first week of the Witt Center opening earlier, 225 students took advantage of the expanded hours. Love is pleased with the first week’s numbers, and he expects the amount of students who exercise at the Witt Center in the morning to increase as the semester goes on.
McGiffert is proud his efforts have paved the way for more students to benefit from an active lifestyle that may involve morning exercise.
“It’s something that affects every single student, so now they can go work out at 7 o’clock in the morning,” McGiffert said. “It gets people up and moving. Working out in the morning is one of the best things you can do because it gets your blood pumping.”
The Witt Center is open from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Sunday.