College To Subsidize House Gyms

University Hall officials announced Monday that each upperclass House will receive a one-time grant of $20,000 towards the improvement of House gyms in light of the long-delayed renovations of the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC).

The move is part of an effort to quickly alleviate the space crunch in student recreational facilities and comes just three weeks after the Undergraduate Council capped House gym funds at just over $1,000 over two years.

House Committees will be able to use the money at their discretion and have until the end of the year to decide how to allocate the funds.

According to Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71, the move has been under consideration for several weeks, but the lack of House gym equipment was raised by House masters last summer.

Gross indicated that subsidization was an immediate answer to the shortage of student recreational athletic space and said that he will still push for a renovation of the MAC.


“This is a short-term improvement,” Gross said yesterday. “We need to focus on a renovation of the MAC in the long run. That is the main recreational athletic facility at the College.”

Gross said that improvements to the Hemenway Gym and the Quadrangle Recreational Activities Center (QRAC) are also in the works, pending the movement of the dance studio to the QRAC in the near future.

Undergraduate Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 heralded the decision as a “huge step forward.”

“I think this goes a long way to serve the fitness needs of those of us who are here now but we certainly can’t forget about how much we need the MAC to be renovated,” Chopra said.

The council has been pushing for money and improvements to the House gyms over the past year, going so far as to allot each House up to $1,000 to spend on gym improvements. That amount was recently capped at $1,333 total over two years. Last year four Houses—Adams, Kirkland, Leverett and Pforzheimer—each received $1,000 to improve their fitness facilities under this policy.

In May, masters and administrators agreed at a Committee on House Life meeting that improving House gyms was a viable short-term solution to a recreational space crunch while renovations to the MAC were being considered.

And Chopra said House gyms are typically small basement rooms, fitted with second-hand equipment and sometimes crowded with miscellaneous storage items.

“Some of them look like dungeons,” he said.

Piecemeal efforts have been made in recent years to improve these facilities, which are widely criticized for their small size and outdated equipment.

Currently, Lowell is the only House without a gym.

Lowell House Committee co-chair Jeslyn A. Miller ’05, who is also a Crimson editor, said the committee has been working on finding a place for the gym since the beginning of the school year.

“Lowell’s gym plans are underway,” Miller said. “We are very excited about U.C. money; we’ll put it to good use. It’s just a matter of when and where.”

“Students use exercise in many ways—to relax, to socialize, to stay in shape,” Gross said. “The president, the masters and I want to support this.”

—Staff writer Rebecca D. O’Brien can be reached at