The University of Washington Tacoma has opened the University Y Student Center in partnership with the local YMCA. The center houses a large health and fitness center as well as offices, and meeting and social spaces for students.
UW Tacoma constructed and owns the $22 million facility, and the YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties operates it. Officials with the Y and the university had been in talks since 2008 about teaming up to make the student center a reality.
The impetus for building the center came from a student survey several years ago that identified a recreation facility as one of the primary amenities that students were seeking. At the time, the fitness programs available on campus were "extremely limited," says Zachary Druce, associate executive director with the YMCA. Druce joined the Y recently after working as a student facilities specialist with UW-Tacoma.
"We had a couple of community partnerships, and some opportunities for open gym use," Druce says. "On campus, we had a small fitness center that was pretty much just weight equipment."
Student fees helped pay for construction and will continue to pay for ongoing operation of the facility.
Among the spaces dedicated to fitness activities: two basketball courts; a climbing wall with five routes; a 1 ½-mile running track; 123 cardio, fitness and weight-training stations; and two multipurpose studios to accommodate group exercise.
In addition to fitness facilities, the center has several spaces for student activities and organizations, including a community room, a game room, a videoconferencing center and a multifunction space with seating for up to 370 people.
About one month since its opening, the center has become a popular spot on campus.
"It has been amazing to see something like this on our campus" Druce says. "It's been impressive to see how many students are staying around on campus after classes."
The partnership enables students to have full, free use of the student center and any YMCA facility in Pierce & Kitsap counties. YMCA members who are not students also will have access to the University Y.
The center was built on the site of Longshoreman’s Hall, a nearly 60-year-old structure that was razed to make way for the new facility. A mural inside the student center pays tribute to the history of the old building.