At dinner with colleagues a few nights ago, the conversation turned to the topic of faculty use of the university recreation center. Most universities have well equipped exercise facilities, and the cost of using these facilities is far less than the cost of joining a fitness center. Although many faculty use the campus rec center, some faculty aren't comfortable going to a student-filled facility to exercise. As a result, some universities even have (or are planning to build) separate facilities for faculty and staff.
I suppose universities have done surveys to find out about faculty/staff use of rec centers and reasons for lack of use. In a small informal survey (by me), I find that the main reason for faculty non-use of the campus rec center is lack of time. That is certainly true in my case this year. I have used the rec center regularly in the past, but that's not possible this semester owing to my teaching load and search committee activities on top of everything else. Search committees are important, of course, but very time consuming.
And that's OK! There's no way to guarantee that the time is well spent, but, according to some of my readers, because I am a highly compensated professor with a secure job, it's fine that I spend all this time with candidates who may or may not be 'serious' rather than spending the time with my family or doing research or sleeping or something, but that's the way the game is played and it's just business. But I digress.
Another reason given for faculty avoidance of student-dominated rec centers isn't so much not wanting to sweat on a treadmill next to a student, but rather not wanting to shower with their students. Some male colleagues (male and female) have complained about the lack of shower privacy options at their rec centers. A female professor acquaintance feels that putting her C-section scars and stretch marks (which are apparently so prominent that they are visible from space) might deter some students from ever having babies, or could at least ruin someone's day.
Yet another reason for faculty dislike of university rec centers is being uncomfortable about the "I can't believe my professor is here exercising!" response from some students, or various embarrassed or negative reactions by students who would prefer that the rec center be a refuge from reminders of their academic responsibilities and stresses. Some students definitely think it is cool to see their professors at the rec center, and are happy to chat about academic and non-academic things with faculty, but others would prefer to encounter their professors only in the classroom.
The "I can't believe I'm seeing my professor outside the classroom" response isn't confined to rec centers, of course. Most of us have had students exclaim such things when encountering us on the sidewalk of a main street near campus or in a store. I suppose it is strange to see someone out of context, but do they think that professors have secret professor tunnels that we use to walk from one place to another and special professorial means of acquiring special professor foods? (Of course we do have special stores for acquiring professor clothes, but that's another issue). For some faculty, this phenomenon can be a reason for avoidance of campus recreational facilities.
For faculty who use campus rec centers or would consider using a campus rec facility:
7 months ago