The University of Arizona

New Campus Rec Locker Rooms Personify Best of Inclusiveness, Diversity

This summer, Campus Recreation at the University of Arizona broke ground on a locker room renovation project with the goal of creating the most inclusive and welcoming space for its students and community. This Thursday, Campus Recreation, one of the top ranked recreation center in the nation, is set to unveil the new addition. We caught up with Michele Schwitzky, Interim Director of Campus Recreation, to get her thoughts on the completed project and learn how it embodies the UA’s values of inclusion and diversity.  

I know that you’ve been waiting for a while for the completion of this project. How do you feel now that it’s here?  

Michele: It feels amazing! What a lot of people don’t know is that while construction for this project started in early May, we’ve been planning the design process since early 2015. Student and community feedback have always driven our practices, and in past Campus Climate surveys, we learned a number of people didn’t feel comfortable in our old locker rooms.

Since our locker rooms have remained the same since 1990, there were a lot of room for improvements in terms of privacy and accessibility. Over the past few years, we’ve worked with students, staff, faculties, and Campus Rec users to ensure we design a space that is the most inclusive and welcoming to our community’s needs.  

That’s a great segue to my next question. Who did you talk to and consult with before the design process?   

Michele: Over the past few years, we’ve brought in several focus groups including representatives from ASUA, GPSC, LGBTQ Affairs, Campus Recreation Advisory Committee, as well as Campus Rec staff and members. We knew that from the start, we wanted our students and community to be involved in the entire renovation process, from the initial feasibility study to the end of the design process.

For those that are unfamiliar, could you give us a quick rundown of what’s included in the new locker rooms?

Michele: Sure. Our new locker rooms have 14 all-gender, cabana-style rooms with fully private showers. The new layout includes a lounge area between locker rooms that create an open corridor to the pool deck. It makes for a much cleaner, brighter, and more dynamic space that not only modernizes our facility, but ensures our students and community members enjoy active and healthy lifestyles for years to come.   

Are there currently any plans to name the lounge area in the new locker rooms?

Michele: That’s a great question! In the spirit of incorporating our members into the design process, we are currently having a naming contest for the new lounge area! The winner will be honored as a part of our official ribbon cutting ceremony on October 26th during Homecoming weekend.

I imagine a lot of other institutions are also looking to renovate their recreation facilities and incorporate the UA’s practice of inclusive excellence in the design process. Have any other institutions reached out to you for advice? 

Michele: Yes, in fact we have representatives from other universities coming to visit in the next few weeks. I think a lot of institutions are going through the same process of looking to create a space that’s welcoming, accessible, and inclusive for all their students and users.  

We’re one of the leading universities heading that effort. I’m incredibly excited about our new locker rooms and looking forward to continuing to provide our Wildcats with the best student experience for years to come! 

This Thursday, Sept. 21 from 3 pm to 4:30 pm, the Rec Center will host a tour of the new locker rooms. The Rec Lounge naming contest ends on October 2nd. For more information on how to participate, click here