Several components make up a successful campus rec department, but what can often be overlooked are the facility basics. Without the right facility to support your programs, your rec center will have a hard time reaching its full potential. Getting back to your facility basics can keep your rec center in the best shape for serving your student population.
We spoke to John Lentz, the campus recreation director at Indiana State University, about how to pay more attention to facility basics and help your rec center run smoothly as a result:
JL: We all think about our programs, preparing our programs and everything that goes into it — staffing, equipment needs, etc. But it does you no good if you have a facility that may not be conducive to that activity or your systems aren’t functioning in a manner that allows the program to work effectively.
It’s the smaller things — things like ballasts for the lights. What kind of ballasts are you using? Are you using LED lights or metal highlight lights? Will you have to wait until so many lights go out before you get a lift to go up and replace a bunch of them? Those are examples of systems issues you have to think of.
Are you trying to consolidate certain areas to allow for the best customer service? It may be the difference between having a membership services counter someplace separate from your entrance counter, where you’re checking IDs. Ideally, you’d like to have those in the same area so you don’t have to worry about somebody waiting in line, but all of a sudden something’s not right at the ID check and they’ve got to get out of line to check with membership services and take care of that issue. That’s a drain on them and the flow of the facility.
JL: I wouldn’t say they’re easy to overlook as much as they’re out of your control oftentimes. We’ve got a very modern building, and we get caught overloading the electrical outlets. Anytime we have a special event and the group wants to come in with all these devices or amusements that take a lot of electricity, we’ll have to check with our facilities management crew and make sure we can handle the load. Sometimes, we find out we can’t handle the load. Those are things we don’t typically think about, but they hit us. And they hit us when we don’t have a lot of time to make changes.
JL: It’s very important you understand how to interact with the maintenance staff — they can be your very best friends, or your worst enemies if you don’t know how to deal with them. The front-line staff and the facilities management staff — folks who actually come over and do the work — love working with us and interact well with us. You’ve got to be able to position yourself well politically so they’re are on the same page you are. You don’t know what their agendas are: If they’ve got two really big repair projects they’re working on elsewhere on campus, and you’ve got an important program coming up and you need quick attention, they may not always be concerned about what you’re concerned about. Most of the time, they’re under a business affairs operation, so you have some influence in that area. That’s learning how to play the game and position yourself well.