The Butler Center is a modern fitness facility that is used by faculty, students, and even members of the public. Members of the St. Paul community can purchase memberships to the facility, which includes a parking permit. Almost every student has had a day where they could not find parking. Knowing that there is an ongoing limited parking issue, are these public memberships adding to the parking congestion?
Built in 1994, the Butler Center is an up to date building with new and accessible equipment. It was renovated in 2015 to update the old pool, add a cardio space and another gymnasium. From a 25-yard pool to an indoor track, the center is a well-cared for and immaculate facility. There are great group exercise classes that do not require any registration. Currently, Zumba and various yoga classes are featured through May 12. The center also has a technology feature called Fitness On Demand, which consists of over 200 virtual workout videos that are accessible to all members.
Perhaps the most comfortable piece of the center is the athlete’s lounge. This lounge is guarded by face recognition technology, and access is limited to varsity athletes, coaches, and administration. The room is furnished with tables, chairs, couches, and a big screen television. Athletes use this space for relaxing, studying, group sessions, and hanging out.
Morgan Reidinger, public health major ‘20, said her favorite thing about the center is the athlete lounge along with the newer cardio room.
“There is nothing about the Butler Center that I don’t like,” said Reidinger. “[However,] if I could change anything, it would be more equipment and more bench racks in the weight room.”
Attendance fluctuates depending on the time of the year. According to Nicole Hempler, the Assistant Athletics Director, attendance usually goes down during finals week. They also see a lower attendance during good weather and summer time. One might think that only athletes frequent the center, and in some cases, like the athletic training room, this is true. However, Nicole Hempler believes there is something here for everyone.
“Once a month, usually on the third Wednesday, we have a women only open swim,” said Hempler. “This is to make sure that women who may be uncomfortable around men for cultural or any other reasons, can come and utilize the pool.” This was partly due to a Student Senate effort in the past to make sure all students feel comfortable using the facility. The Butler Center event calendar can be found here.
When asked why men use the gym, she explains that there are men in the graduate programs at St. Kate’s and they have access just like any other student. On top of that, they also sell a limited amount of memberships to the public, alumnae, and alumnus. Students from A.C.T.C. schools and the Minneapolis campus do not have access. Each student must use only their home campus facilities.
According to the St. Kate’s athletics website, there are 125 public memberships for sale every year. Public memberships start at $420 dollars a year, or $35 dollars a month. The amount is prorated if a membership is purchased later in the year. Every membership comes with a parking pass along with full access to the fitness facility.
Katie Williams, biology major ‘19 and a resident student, weighs in on parking permits issued to the public.
“It is extremely unfair [to] students,” said Williams. “[Students] are paying a ton of money to attend this school and there are never any spots to park in.” Williams sees the parking issue not just school related, but job and home related as well. “Some students need to have cars here to get home or to a job and it is unfair to charge so much on top of everything else.”
Hempler does not believe the public memberships are contributing to the parking issues.
“The parking pass our public members receive is the most restrictive of parking passes in that it is only valid in the O’Shaugnessy Event parking lot and it is not an overnight permit,” said Hempler. “Butler Center worked closely with Public Safety for determining the parking passes.” She says that the majority of public members use the facility before 8 a.m. or in the evening after 5 p.m. when permits are no longer required. Due to the low demand for parking spots during those times, the public members’ parking permits should not have a significant impact on student parking.
The Department of Public Safety is responsible for overseeing parking policies and procedures. Current parking rates are $225 per year for resident students and $125 per year for commuter students.