Temple’s Independence Blue Cross Student Recreation Center provides a service that you’ll have trouble finding at other gyms: it supplies towels with no strings attached. You just have to return them at the end of your work-out.
“We don’t even want your quarters for your lockers,” said Anne Wilkinson, Assistant Director of Recreation Services, which features daily locker usage for the security deposit of a quarter and returns the coin at the end of the lockers’ use.
Students and other gym-goers have been taking advantage of the IBC by using towels without returning them. These occurrences have forced the Recreation Services Department to take action. Notices of needing a 90 percent return rate on the towels have been posted on the inside of the gym’s lockers.
And if they don’t receive the necessary amount? “I doubt we’ll charge for towels, but it is always a possibility” said Wilkinson.
The cost of purchasing the 37 x 20 inch towels come out of the Recreation Services budget, according to Wilkinson. The fitness center replenishes towels every two to three months with shipments ranging from 500 to 1000 towels.
“We would like to put that money to something like exercise machines and amenities,” Wilkinson said. She believes that students have been overestimating their need for towels.
“Some people take three or four towels, but they only need one,” Wilkinson said. “One towel does it all.”
Through over-usage of towels, even an honest patron could eventually cause problems with the washer and dryer. With only one washer and dryer running continuously from 6 a.m. to midnight, the extra towels put a burden on the industrial size machines.
“They get beaten up,” Wilkinson said.
Lack of space in the IBC prevents buying new washer and dryer machines to lighten the load. However, the staff says towel thieves aren’t doing the washer or dryer any favors. The staff also realizes and understands the hesitance for a thief to come forward.
“People feel like an idiot walking back in just to return a towel,” says Kyle Shireman, an IBC student building supervisor. “The look on their face would be embarrassing. [But] we don’t care.”
Shireman said people usually inadvertently take the towels because they forget they are in their hands or backpacks when they walk out. He doesn’t understand why someone would purposely steal them.
“I mean, they’re decent towels, but not worth stealing,” Shireman said.
For some people, guilt – or forgetfulness – becomes so overwhelming that they would rather face returning the towel than keep it.
“I don’t know what I was thinking when I took it,” said a sophomore, who preferred to remain anonymous. “I just wasn’t thinking. I just want to them to know it was an accident.”
Steve Wood can be reached at email@example.com.