Does UREC Make Exercise A Privilege?

A recent post I made about gym anxiety and JMU’s recreation center got a lot of attention and great feedback. I would first like to thank everyone for reading and supporting it, I must admit this whole thing is new to me but I was very proud of that post and was amazed at the amount of attention it received. If you haven’t read it yet, this is the post I am referring to.

After sorting through all of the comments the post received, it dawned on me that this is a topic I should continue to explore because it has become very clear that not many people are aware of just how inaccessible UREC is.

It is no secret that JMU’s campus is not very accessible to people who have a disability. It is something that I, someone who does not have a disability, never truly noticed or paid attention to. However, after doing research and taking a closer look as I walk around campus, JMU’s issue of not being accessible is something I can no longer ignore. And neither should you.

On the Office of Disability Services website, there are numerous links students can click on to register to receive special aid. Whether it be transportation, or accommodating to students who need longer test times, this office seems like they have everything covered. If you go below the surface level and truly do research however, you may begin to notice some of their many flaws.

One student points out how navigating campus is hard enough for able bodied persons, let alone even more difficult for people with disabilities. There are countless hills, cobblestones, and a lot of buildings don’t have elevators, or if they do, they rarely work.

Another JMU alum wrote to the breeze and stated that the idea that exercise is a “privilege for those who are able-bodied — while well-intentioned — is dangerously uninformed.” Although this may be true for some people, I believe that JMU’s UREC does make exercise a privilege.

As I stated in an earlier post about this matter, UREC has no way for people with disabilities to get past the first floor. Any student who has been to UREC knows that once you get into the building you have to hand over your JAC card for an employee to swipe, which then allows you to walk through a narrow passage to get inside. I do not know the exact measurements for these, but I can easily guess that they are too narrow for a wheel chair to pass through. The first floor is where the pool and adventure center are located, so yes, a person does have the option to use either of these, but I don’t believe that means it is acceptable for UREC to stop there.

The JMU UREC website has a tab called “Parking and Accessibility.” Finally, I think. Maybe there is more to what they eye can see?

Unfortunately, that is not the case. On this page labeled “UREC Parking and Accessibility,” there is a long list of different places people can park. Finally, towards the bottom, you see a short section for “UREC Handicap parking.” After that, there is no more information about how the building itself can be accessed for people with disabilities.

As an able-bodied person, it is easier to stay in my bubble and not have to worry about navigating campus every day of my life. As a lover of fitness and JMU, that is why I write about this issue. Exercise should not be a privilege. There are so many amazing athletes with disabilities that prove that anyone can and should work out and exercise if they would like to.

However, because of its inaccessibility, JMU and its recreation center have taken that right away and made exercising a privilege.



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