Towel shortages continue to frustrate both staff members and gymgoers at the Wade King Student Recreation Center.
According to Tamara Jansen, the operations and climbing wall coordinator, the rec center needs roughly 400-600 clean towels to accommodate daily student need, but occasionally has trouble meeting that benchmark.
The problem, whether intentional or accidental, is students walking out of the rec center with their towel after they’ve finished working out. What makes this year different is the influx of patrons due to the construction being performed on Sam Carver Gymnasium, Jansen said.
“With the Carver remodel, we’ve absorbed all of the faculty/staff wellness classes, all of the [physical education] classes and athletic teams. It’s just more users coming in to work out,” she said.
Towel theft has been a problem since before the Carver renovations. The Western Front reported on the issue in 2007 and again in 2014.
In January 2014, 356 towels were stolen from the rec center, costing the university $346. Rec center staff could not provide current numbers for towel theft and cost in time for publication.
Jansen said the staff does daily inventory of towels on hand, but doesn’t keep an exact day-to-day figure of how many total towels are in circulation. Rather than worrying about recovering missing towels, Jansen says she simply orders more should the need arise.
Freshman Connor Browne said he’s never had a problem getting a towel at the rec center.
Other students, including Jordan Donohue, disagree.
“I think it’s annoying that there aren’t very many towels ” Donohue said. “It bothers me.”
Senior Kyle Duggean, agreed.
“Last quarter, it was pretty annoying when I would work out and have class right after. I was in a hurry, and I’d be like ‘Wow, I can’t shower now,’” he said.
Despite all of this, Jansen said that the rec center will not be taking any further steps to combat the loss of towels.
“When we opened 12 or 13 years ago now, it was a service that the students really wanted, and it was something that we decided as a department we were going to provide regardless of loss,” she said. “It’s just a service we provide, and it’s just another amenity that we can give to students so that it’s one more thing off of their plate.”
The rec center’s multiple external sources of revenue means that the percentage of student tuition money being used to cover the cost of missing towels is small, if not zero, Jansen said.
Emily Schneiders, a service desk attendant who works at the desk where towels are available, says that towels tend to run out between noon and 6 p.m.
She said towels run out especially at the beginning of the quarter when the rec center sees a higher number of visitors. Students regularly complain about the lack of towels, Schneiders said.
As to the actual disappearances of the towels, Schneiders believes that people simply forget to return them, or leave them in places where rec center staff members don’t see them.
However, Juan Carlos Perez believes that the taking of towels may not be so unintentional.
“For the most part, I feel like a lot of people do it on purpose,” said Perez.
He often sees towels from the rec in students’ homes. Those students argue that they are “getting their fees worth.”
Senior Marcus Micheles thinks otherwise.
“I don’t think that stealing is ever justifiable,” he said, “I think students should accept the fact that it’s not their property and it should be given back.”