ReviNDSU: Campus wellness facilities have come a long way
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 14:08
The Wallman Wellness Center may not be home to Bison athletic teams like the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse and the Bison Sports Arena have been for many decades, but it provides for a variety of student needs in a way that neither facility ever could.
Although both buildings were at one time considered the latest and greatest in terms of multipurpose indoor recreation, they eventually couldn’t keep up with the fitness opportunities that were being increasingly desired by NDSU enrollees.
With the BSA already in existence for more than 25 years going back to the late 90s, a movement within the NDSU community for more modern equipment along with a place that could adequately house it had begun. What started with ample optimism would experience some hurdles along the way such as student opposition to higher activity fees, facility location and state legislature funding approval.
During the final days of the 1997 legislative session that were overshadowed by an epic flood, which somehow spared Fargo and devastated Grand Forks, the new wellness center proposal ended up not gaining enough momentum to even be voted on.
Theresa Brandt, who chaired the health and wellness committee, said in an April 1997 edition of The Spectrum, “It didn’t go to conference committee. They dragged it out until the last minute, but it’s done until 1999.”
As a student who walked through graduation shortly thereafter, I recall how the excitement and issues surrounding the possibility that a modern private sector type health club simply vanished without a whimper.
“It was a learning experience, a very frustrating one of our supposed representative government,” John Fossum said, the 1996-1997 student body president. “We voiced the concerns about what students wanted and had worked toward for four years and it seemed to carry no weight with representatives and other leaders in the Senate and the House.”
According to Spectrum reports, George Wallman, who was Vice President of Student Affairs, was also discouraged by the results.
“The concern I have is that the students conducted a very democratic process on campus and all of the sudden somebody just ignores it,” said Wallman.
In honor of his efforts, the new building was eventually named the Wallman Wellness Center at the request of student government and approved by the Board of Higher Education.
After years of anticipation and the alignment of ingredients necessary to making the center a reality, it opened in 2002 and was expanded in both 2007 and 2011.
Students living on campus no longer had to make the long trek north to the BSA where only a crowded weight room, a couple of basketball courts and a one-eighth mile running track awaited them. Those living off campus also had easier access to the center via the newly hard surfaced 18th Street North.
Before this, we either made do with what the athletic department allowed us to use or decided to pay for an off campus alternative. Outside of the downtown YMCA and the West Acres Sports Center, our choices in clubs were quite limited.
That too is definitely different today, but the on campus fitness, health and day care center often displays its ability to compete with other health and wellness establishments.
This is one of the major changes I have noticed on the NDSU campus since my time spent here more than 15 years ago. The differences amaze me nearly every day and I can’t imagine how much more astounding they are to alumni from previous eras.
I look forward to a weekly exploration of changes that have taken place here and would invite any suggestions that Spectrum readers may have.
Feel free to contact me with ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, to learn more about a top-notch facility that truly has been a fine addition to an ever-improving campus, please visit: http://www.ndsu.edu/wellness/.