The Student Recreational Sports Center is open for the school year after practicing social distancing and experiencing low participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center is striving to include students from diverse backgrounds.
SRSC Interim Director, Chris Arvin, said they have seen a lack of diversity participation in their facilities. He said they are looking to engage and strengthen their relationship with more students with their services.
“We want everyone to feel welcome, safe, attended to and want students to have fun at our facilities,” Arvin said.
The SRSC receives funding from one of the fees students pay every year. They encourage students to take advantage of the services, such as personal training, an aquatic center and group exercises. According to their website, the SRSC’s mission is to connect, inform and inspire students to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Every summer during the International Student Orientation, the SRSC makes sure they are knowledgeable of the fitness classes and workout spaces on campus.
In previous years, they received feedback from the Muslim community and how the women don’t feel comfortable using their facilities. The SRSC started a women’s-only swim time in response to make sure they had a comfortable space to swim. The program was not continued this year due to low staff, but Arvin said the SRSC is working on a return.
The SRSC also engages with the Groups Scholar Program, which is a program providing support to first-generation college students and minorities attaining their bachelor's degrees at IU.
They invite groups students into their facilities and have different activities to get them involved in their program. Activities include a tour of the SRSC and games with prizes and free T-shirts. The SRSC also has a special job fair for groups students.
Arvin said he saw a tremendous amount of students who wanted to work for their program and hired them for the fall semester.
Arvin said he and his team are continuing to build a team of diverse staff members in hopes that other minority students can feel safe at their facilities and want to come more often.
IU senior Janet Cabrera previously worked at the SRSC as a participant's associate who assists anyone with questions in the fitness area and making sure people are following policies.
“There wasn’t a lot of diversity in my department,” she said. “There was only diversity in certain departments.”
Cabrera saw more diversity in facilities support than any other department at the SRSC. Representation matters, students tend to feel safer and included when they see other people that look like them in the same space.
“It’s important and it’s easier for folks to engage with us if they come to our facilities and they feel represented and they see people they identify with,” Arvin said. “That is our mission. I want to know every time someone walks in the building, they feel welcomed.”
In the future, Arvin and his team is hoping to expand in diversifying their faculty in all departments and engage with students on how they can effectively make students feel more included in their space.