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Director: Lanes in SUB 'well past their glory years'

Jan. 21, 2010

By Laura Remson
Staff writer

The bowling alley in the Bill Daniel Student Center basement has been slowly deteriorating over the last 50 years, becoming a considerably outdated facility. To combat the problem, the health, human performance and recreation department has reduced the number of students participating in the course this semester.

The Brunswick bowling lanes were brought to Baylor's campus in the early 1960s as a used system, said Matt Burchett, director of student activities. While the SUB was completed in 1949, the lanes were retrofitted to fit the building during the early 1960s.

"[The lanes are] just well past their glory years as far as the system is concerned," Burchett said. "Typically the age of a system like this is anywhere between 40 or 50 years, and we have far exceeded that timeline at this point."

Kay Waldrop, a professor of bowling and aerobics, noted that the functionality of the facility has only been getting worse over the last few semesters. This was worsened when the facility's mechanics were let go last summer.

Lutz explained that one of the problems with the facility are the pinsetters, the machines that lay the pins at the end of the lane.

"They are probably 20 years past how long they should have lasted," said Dr. Rafer Lutz, chair of the HHPR department. "They are not easy to fix, and they are constantly breaking down."

In previous semesters, high numbers of student bowlers on limited lanes caused big headaches for the department.

"The problem is we had 18 students on three lanes," Waldrop said. "So that's four or five people on each lane and you can't get enough bowling time in. Grades suffered because of that."

With that knowledge, the HHPR department made the decision to reduce both the number of students in each of the bowling courses as well as the total number of sections offered. Waldrop said the department hopes that stress on the lanes will be reduced with fewer students using them in class.

In the past, nearly 300 students participated in the program each semester. This semester, however, that number was reduced to fewer than 80 students.

Waldrop has taught the popular human performance course for 11 years, but this is the first time that there have been a maximum of only nine students per section.

"It's not fair to have so few sections that so few people get the opportunity to do it," she said.

Lutz said that overall satisfaction of the course had decreased.

"It's just not a good environment for our students," Lutz said. "They are just not getting the value that they should get."

Lutz has found a number of students unhappy with the enrollment situation.

"Well students like bowling. There's some disappointed students," Lutz said. "The HP non-major program is trying to service the entire university."

Lutz said while this situation is disappointing, it's important to look at it as a whole, not just at the bowling courses. He estimates the total number of seats in HP courses each semester to run between 2,800 and 2,900.

"In the grand scheme of things, if we are down 50 seats, it's a problem, but it's also out of 2,900 seats," Lutz said. "It's a percentage; it's not as drastic as it seems on the surface."

By adding extra sections of different human performance courses, including tennis, Lutz believes that the department has been able to find seats for the many students that absolutely need a credit.

Waldrop is still turning down hopeful students trying to get into the course.

"It's not fair to have so few sections that so few people get the opportunity to do it," Waldrop said. "I know I've turned down at least 20 students that have e-mailed me [to be in the course]."

New Mexico senior Abby Worland was one of the fortunate few to grab a spot in bowling this semester. While she feels bad for students who couldn't get into the course, her experience so far has been a happy one.

"It's so nice," Worland said. "You get to know each other pretty well and there's no wait time in between bowling. It's so efficient; you can go, do your bowling and leave."

In addition to reduced use for the bowling classes, recreational use of the lanes has also been reduced. This semester, recreational bowlers have only three hours a day during the week to bowl. The lanes are now closed Saturday and Sunday as well.

Worland hopes that the university will update the lanes and hire a new mechanic to keep both the facility and the course open for future students.

"It's a problem," Waldrop said. "It's a huge problem. And the HP department is not happy with it, but we're not in control of this facility. They are trying to preserve it, because nobody's come forward with the money to fix it."

At the moment, the department knows of no plans to fix the facility.

Brian Nicholson, assistant vice president for facilities and construction confirmed this, noting that there are no current plans for any immediate, large-scale renovations or upgrades to the facility.

"The step number one would be for us to come up with a plan and a price," Nicholson said, pointing out that this process would involve experts in bowling and construction, as well as university officials. "As of right now, that hasn't been done."

Nicholson said that money for this project could come from a gift or from university funds, but this would greatly depend on how much money the project will cost. As to whether this project is a university priority, Nicholson said that it would need to be considered along with other university construction as a whole.