Campus recreation is a piece of the college experience — an important piece, but not the only piece. To give students a wholesome experience, it takes coordinated efforts from all organizations on campus, making it important for campus rec to work well with other on-campus entities.
Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado understands this concept well, and has implemented a unique policy to help create and maintain positive relationships with other organizations across campus.
Any police officer working on the Red Rocks campus gets free access to all of the campus rec facilities. “It helps provide our rec center a heightened sense of security,” said Kirk Fallon, the director of campus recreation at Red Rocks. “Our officers are very present on campus so the students know who they are and love seeing them in the rec center.”
The idea didn’t come from within the campus rec industry, however. It came from the fast food industry. “Believe it or not, the idea actually came to me from working at Chick-Fil-A as a teenager,” said Fallon. “The location I worked at gave free meals to police officers who were on duty.”
According to Fallon, the policy implemented by his manager at Chick-Fil-A had more to do with creating a greater sense of security than simply offering free food.
“I once asked that store owner why he gave away so much free food and his answer was simple: security,” said Fallon. “The customers felt safer because they constantly saw officers enjoying some delicious chicken in the restaurant.”
Fallon decided to transfer that policy to the Red Rocks rec center, and the results have been positive. “It shows that the rec center is investing in other organizations to help them reach their goals — the officers definitely appreciate the initiative,” said Fallon. “It also allows opportunities for students to get to know the officers better, which makes it easier for them to approach the officers outside the rec center.”
As an added benefit, the officers can get themselves into better shape. This keeps them active and more ready for duty, and helps them achieve greater wellbeing and healthier lifestyles.
“Heart attacks are one of the leading killers of police officers on duty,” said Fallon. “So if we can help keep the officers healthy, we’re playing our role in keeping the entire college safe. Hopefully, other on-campus organizations see this collaboration and know the rec center can help in some creative ways.”