Temple Athletics unveiled a new lounge for student-athletes on Jan. 26 in the Fitness Mezzanine on the second floor of Pearson Hall, equipped with Xbox gaming units, sleep pods, lounge chairs and TVs.
The lounge was funded entirely by donations to the university from the New York City Angels, a group of independent investors, and is part of Temple Athletics’ “student-athlete wellness initiative,” which was announced last May. Only student-athletes can access the space.
No money for the lounge came from university funds, said Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty. The New York City Angels requested that the donation amount not be made public.
“[Director of Athletics Pat Kraft] had a vision for this and it was up to our development office to track down donations,” Dougherty said. “The New York City Angels came through with the funding. We had the idea for having a student-athlete space and we were able to find a group to fund it.”
“Pat definitely lived up to all his promises on this one,” said David Fitzgerald, a junior political science major who represents the men’s cross country team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “He told us he was going to do it and he met that deadline. Walking in there was amazing. I can’t wait to use it every day for my free cup of coffee.”
But some students responded negatively to photos of the lounge posted on social media, questioning the university’s funding priorities — despite the fact Temple did not directly pay for the lounge.
“Do you need someone to coach you on finances?” junior psychology major Sarah Bockrath tweeted at the official Temple Twitter account. “I’m not too good at it but I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t spend your money on useless crap like this.”
The tweet received more than 300 engagements.
“It just seems like a shame that these spaces are being created for a specific group of students while other students are saying, ‘We want a sexual assault crisis center, we want more counselors in Tuttleman,’” Bockrath told The Temple News. “Even if the money comes from donors, I think it’s still something we should think about.”
“I would be interested in seeing how much money the university has going into places like Tuttleman and the Wellness Resource Center and how much is going to athletics,” she added.
Fitzgerald found the social media response to the lounge “upsetting,” he said.
“You have to look at the work the [student-athletes] are putting in,” he said. “It’s a 20-hour-a-week job, and that’s not counting the hours you put in outside of the sport every day. Some of the people saying those resources aren’t earned was definitely a little hard to see.”
Campus Recreation gave the athletics department the Fitness Mezzanine space in exchange for classroom space previously occupied by Temple Athletics. Devon Rembert, assistant director of facilities at Campus Recreation, said the boxing equipment formerly in the fitness mezzanine was moved to the IBC Student Recreation Center. All other cardio and strength equipment was swapped out with older models in the various athletic spaces around Main Campus.
Lacrosse attacker and senior strategic communication major Kira Gensler said she appreciates the designated space to relax between practice and classes because she doesn’t always have time to go home.
“It’s also a really cool environment for us to hang out with other teams and be around other athletes that you’re normally not around in a relaxed setting that isn’t academically driven,” she said. “It’s a really cool space.”