Panel discusses rec renovations, security

James Heggen

Students got a chance Tuesday night to hear more about the proposed recreation services renovations and also what ISU Police is doing in terms of campus security.

A panel of five ISU staff members spoke at the student forum, which was sponsored by the Freshman Council and the Government of the Student Body. About 30 students and some staff members gathered to ask the panel questions in the Sun Room in the Memorial Union.

The panel consisted of Mike Harvey, director of recreation services; Tom Hill, vice president for student affairs; Pete Englin, director of the department of residence; Jerry Stewart, director of public safety; and Kris Olds, assistant director of student activities.

Most of the night was focused on the proposed recreation services renovations, which will be voted on by students on Feb. 25, 26 and 27.

Brad Grandgeorge, freshman in agricultural studies, questioned the need for all the renovations and focused his arguments on the proposed leisure pool, hot tub and sauna.

“Looks to me like there’s some stuff that’s really not necessary,” he said. “We’re coming to Iowa State to get an education, not to be in a five-star resort or whatever.”

Harvey said the proposed renovations were identified as the top needs by students, including the leisure pool, hot tub and sauna.

“It is something that is a very common amenity in our other peer recreation facilities that are going up around the country,” he said.

Harvey also talked about what might happen if the vote next week fails, though he said the panel members were optimistic about it passing.

“But if it doesn’t pass, we will regroup and figure out where to go from there, in terms of ‘is it a scaled-back project,’ ‘is there a something else we can do,'” he said.

Although he said they had not talked extensively about what to do about a “no” vote, he said it may depend on the way the vote failed, considering factors such as how significant the vote margin was, who voted and what feedback they received from the vote.

Hill added that whether the vote passes or not, something will still need to happen.

“If it does fail, you still have two aging facilities that need work, so you’re going to have to do work on them,” he said. “If you’re not careful, what you’ll wind up doing is spending probably as much money over a shorter period of time to renovate an older facility.”

This would still leave a “limited capacity” and a possible closing of some of the buildings.

“They’re going to become unsafe at the rate we’re going. That’s how serious this thing is,” Hill said.

In the wake of the Northern Illinois University shooting, Stewart also discussed what the Department of Public Safety is doing in terms of campus security.

“I was criticized, I think, by some last fall when I made a statement and said we need to think about possibility, not probability, and to do anything less is short-sighted and unprofessional on my part,” he said.

Stewart said the department was training to deal with a possible active shooter situation as well as training with the Ames Police Department.

He also urged anyone who heard someone making threatening comments to report them immediately.

“Threat assessment is huge,” he said. “We do that every day – you don’t know about it, but we have a stack of threat cases this high that we’re actively working,” Stewart said, while gesturing to indicate the amount of cases his department deals with.