Alexis Salcedo, Contributing writer
For nearly a decade, Pierce College Puyallup’s Health Education Center has provided opportunities for students and employees to exercise on campus or take physical education classes.
When the HEC was constructed near the West Access Road entrance, money wasn’t available to add the gym that was in the original design plans.
Administrators eventually planned to add that gym and an outdoor facility, which would include a combination soccer/baseball and softball field.
“I think we’ll eventually see a gym on this campus, like a court space as well as an outdoor facility,” Health Education Center Manager Brian Kovacevich said. “The possibilities would be endless with those two things. It’s just finding the money (to do this).”
Buildings such as the HEC aren’t state funded, so in order to construct them on college campuses, they must be paid for by students, Kovacevich said.
In 2002, student leaders from the Office of Student Life started a campaign to raise money to construct the HEC. Once the plan was created, which included ideas of the building layout, it was put to a student vote.
A bank of windows that was supposed to be the door into the gym is near the women’s locker room to the right at the bottom of the stairs, Kovacevich said.
Funding for the HEC comes from three sources: $85,000 a year from the college budget, student & activity fees and the $15 HEC usage fee students pay for a membership.
When students voted to approve construction of the HEC, they also affirmed that part of their support included fees to that future students also would pay.
Of a student’s fee, $63.75 goes to a separate account that pays off the debt of the Puyallup’s HEC. As of now, the Puyallup campus is ahead of schedule in paying off the debt.
Not only do the funds help to decrease the amount of debt, the usage fees and S&A fees also go toward operating costs and paying employees.
These fees go toward the cost of operation such as buying laundry detergent, equipment repairs and making sure the building is operating smoothly, such as keeping up with the bathrooms and shower maintenance. Kovacevich mainly uses the S&A fees for salaries and paying his employees.
Getting students and employees to the HEC increases membership purchases and allows the HEC more money to operate efficiently. Currently, about 300-330 people come in Monday-Thursday.
On Friday, about 100 individuals stop in. Of those who come in Monday-Thursday, about 200 just work out. As for Friday, people can only come to workout since no physical education or kinesiology classes are taught this day.
One of the ways students come to the HEC is through the physical education and kinesiology classes offered.
When the building first opened, biology instructor Stephanie Joy and Kovacevich decided to move nutrition classes into the HEC.
“Teaching a five-credit science class down here brings students to this building that might not ever experience this building,” Joy said. “The goal when Brian and I first decided to put nutrition down here was to get them in the door and then it’d sell itself, and it seems to work.”
From Monday-Thursday, the other 100 students come for the purpose of taking either physical education classes or kinesiology classes.
The HEC has had many effects on students from additional fees to providing opportunities. One group of beneficiaries of the HEC are Running Start students.
Sonya Black, a junior at Graham Kapowsin High School, is in the Running Start Program. Black takes two physical education classes at the HEC to earn these credits required for high school graduation.
“If there were no place at Pierce to get P.E. credits, I’d have to go to high school and take an extra P.E. class,” Black said.
Running Start student and HEC front desk employee Griffin Mead started to spend his spare time working out at the gym and eventually got a job.
“The HEC has really been a place for me to escape,” Mead said. “I have met so many great people who have helped me in my journey.”
Black and Mead said that if a gym were added, it could benefit students. Black thinks it’d help by adding more space to workout. Mead feels that a gym would attract more people who don’t necessarily want to lift weights.
“People need to know it’s not an intimidating place to be,” Mead said. “We’re all open and accepting people over at the HEC.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost