The holiday season is the time for giving gifts, and one of the greatest gifts a rec center can give is its own facility space. Various organizations across college campuses regularly need large spaces such as gymnasiums for special events, and campus rec centers have the perfect facility space for said special events.
At Marquette University, several special events are hosted throughout the year, making the rec center a “go-to” for campus organizations. For more insight on his policy of facility space usage and how it positively affects the rest of the campus, Campus Rec spoke to John Sweeney, the director of campus recreation:
CR: Why does the Marquette rec center host so many special events throughout the year?
JS: It’s my personal philosophy — we don’t have that in writing — that we always say “yes,” and we figure it out. A lot of people’s first answer to a lot of things is “no.” But that’s not who I want to be. Whatever we can do on our end to help others on campus, or even off campus, is great. We’ve had a lot of off-campus groups that may or may not have a direct affiliation with Marquette that need some help accommodating an event. We’re a Jesuit school, and our big saying is, “Cura personalis,” which is Latin for, “Care for the whole person.” Whatever we can do to make an experience the best and maximize it for on-campus or off-campus groups, that’s what we want do.
CR: What are some events you’ve got to host?
JS: We’ve hosted the Special Olympics at our facility, with help from the Milwaukee Public School System. They’ve been coming in on a regular basis. The beauty of something like that is they come during the daytime when we’re not quite as busy. You always have to weigh the request with what’s going on in your normal schedule. When you start to get in the thick of the winter and you’ve got 150 basketball games you’re trying to schedule, that gets a little tougher. But like I said, you just work with the groups and if it’s not working out, they might be able to move an event that’s supposed to happen during the week to the weekend, or vice versa. You just have to flexible.
There’s an organization in town called Catholic Youth Ministry (CYM), which is a basketball league for Catholic high school kids — all kids from whatever grade school they were in. We host their preseason basketball tournament, and it was a group looking for a space to host their preseason tournament and it turns out the tournament was in late December, which was when all of our students were already gone. They come in with about 32 teams, and these are all potential Marquette students. A lot of them are going to Catholic school or have had a Catholic upbringing, so exposing them to Marquette University is a great thing.
CR: Does the gifting of facility space have a positive effect on your culture?
JS: Yes. There’s a fairly large population on campus of underrepresented groups, and they’ll come to us to set up some events. We’ve got a couple different facilities and then some outdoor facilities we share with athletics, so we have to work with them, too. There are a lot of charity events with different organizations on campus, so whenever we can accommodate them, we’re looking to do so.
These facilities are a spoke in the wheel — we’re a hub of the activities on campus. We’ve got between 2,000 and 2,500 people per day using our facilities when school is in session. This is a place where people are socializing and recreating together, so if you can give opportunities for on-campus and off-campus groups to do social events, it’s a great experience and opportunity for everybody.