Students complain over backed-up ARC reservations


Photo Courtesy of University of Illinois

The front entrance to the Activities and Recreation Center stands tall late in the afternoon. The ARC has reopened to students in a limited capacity, making reservations hard to attain for some students.

By Payal Rathore, Staff Writer

The Activities and Recreation Center has adopted a reservation system for student users late last fall that has carried over into spring semester. Two weeks in, spots for the gym are backed up for almost a full week.  

“Making a reservation is a little tricky as the reservations fill up very quickly,” said Nellie Lynch, sophomore in Speech & Hearing Sciences. “Standing in the queue to get the Safer Illinois status check is also a bit cumbersome.”

Earlier in the fall, no reservation system was in place for the majority of open ARC spaces when it reopened in August and until Nov. 19.  Reservations were only required for the pool, individual racquetball court usage, 1:1 badminton, group fitness classes and individual basketball hoop use. 

Recently, complaints have extended to online student forums like r/UIUC on Reddit and Facebook.

“On (Nov.) 20, our region was placed in Tier 3 of resurgence mitigations, which required reservations for all activity. The ARC was closed for fall break and when we reopened on Nov. 30, we required reservations as well as operating under modified capacities along with other changes,” Jessica Gentry, Campus Recreation associate director of programs, said. 

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So far, no updates have been provided for the reservation system since the directive from campus that all operations and facilities remain under the Tier 3 guidelines until at least Feb. 8.  Talks related to what changes to the ARC’s operations can or should look like once allowable are still going on.

“While some of our individual areas operated with reservations, which our members seemed to appreciate and navigate with relative ease, it was a big shift for staff and users when we began accepting reservations for all activity on Nov. 30,” Gentry said. “As it’s new to everyone, there are certainly bumps along the way and we have certainly made adjustments where we could try and improve the experience.”

Current regulations followed at the ARC are those issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois Department of Public Health and the state of Illinois. All students, faculty and staff are required to show granted building access through the Safer Illinois app to access the facility. Building counts and capacities are actively monitored to ensure compliance with the stated guidelines. Along with compulsory masks, equipment has also been removed or made unavailable to ensure appropriate social distancing.

“Campus Recreation is providing as much access and services that public health guidelines allow, actively reviewing those and working with campus to determine how we can continue to expand our operations,” Gentry said.  

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