The world of esports has made its way onto campus at Southern Oregon University (SOU) with a new home in the Student Recreation Center (SRC) called the Esports Hub.
Not only will the SOU Esports Hub provide a place for competitive video-gaming, inclusive programming and student collaboration, the hub will also give students the opportunity to earn a minor in Esports Management.
“At its core, the vision for esports at SOU is to provide inclusive competition within collegiate esports,” said Melissa Bates, the assistant director of operations and fitness, and esports director at SOU. “We are building a program we hope to be nationally competitive in the future within collegiate esports leagues.”
The Esports Hub will house 12 stations outfitted in Alienware PCs with Logitech peripherals. The hub will provide space for competition, practice and for all students to play on their own with space reservations included in their SRC memberships.
“SunSpear Games was able to provide invaluable guidance when we began planning the renovation of the space where the hub is located,” said Bates. “In addition to the esports competitive team and casual gaming within the hub, we will also use the space for intramural competition.”
Additional intramural programming is one of the hub features Bates and the recreation team is most excited about. “Campus recreation at SOU has always worked toward providing inclusive programming on campus,” she said. “Esports adds another element that is outside of the traditional recreation experience, such as working out, playing basketball or soccer for intramurals, or attending a group exercise class. Esports will appeal to students who may not know campus recreation has many programs in which to participate.”
Enjoying competitive gaming herself, Bates is also excited to get SOU on the esports map and begin competing with other universities. In addition to the Esports Management minor, the hub will also bring more campus job opportunities within the competitive team, making it a win-win all-around.
While esports is not exactly new in the campus recreation realm, some schools, like SOU, are just now getting the opportunity to offer this program and the many benefits it brings. Outside of the perks already listed, Bates elaborated the need for schools to offer esports will always come back to improving student well-being.
“In the past, studies have shown evidence campus recreation improves the recruitment and retention of students,” she said. “Esports will reach another population of students on campuses and can improve their well-being, as well as bring the opportunity to compete nationally. This will also improve recruitment efforts for universities. Esports is growing in campus recreation and there are even great opportunities for students, outside of competing, that add to the professional development of our student employees.”