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Duke has two recreational facilities. Why is one of them closed?

Every day, Wilson Recreation Center is crowded with students trying to squeeze in a post-class workout. But over on East Campus, Brodie Recreation Center sits closed and empty.

Director of Recreation Facilities Chris Policastro attributed Brodie’s closure to ongoing staff shortages and mentioned that Duke’s recreation facilities have been “working hard to rebuild” since the start of the pandemic.

“We rely heavily on part-time staff to keep our facilities operational, and it takes time to hire and job train people,” he wrote.

In the 2020-21 academic year, Wilson required students to make reservations for workouts, while Brodie’s facilities were only used for COVID-19 testing. This year, Wilson no longer requires students to make reservations, but Brodie remains closed. 

The University attributed Brodie’s continued closure to “COVID-19 restrictions and university regulations.”

Policastro wrote in an email that Duke Recreation staff has made attempts at reducing the volume of gym-goers via the MyRec portal, which allows users to schedule group fitness classes and reserve aquatic lanes ahead of time. He also noted that gym attendance historically declines after the first two weeks of the semester.

First-year students—all of whom live on East Campus—must travel to West Campus to use Wilson’s facilities, and many take issue with the commute time. 

“I wish that Brodie were open because exercising is an important outlet for me, and I waste a lot of time having to go all the way to Wilson,” first-year Natalia Roman said. 

First-year Vibhav Nandagiri said that although he liked the Wilson’s facilities, it would be more convenient if Brodie was open. 

“Hopefully it’ll open soon, and I can spend less time actually going to the gym and more time being in the gym,” Nandagiri said. 

First-year Carson Carranza said he would feel safer if Brodie was open. If both gyms were in use, less people would be competing to use machines, he said. 

“When you’re in the gym, you’re sweating, taking your mask down to drink water and breathing heavy. That’s not the safest environment to be in, especially during COVID, but you gotta work out,” he said.

Staff shortage has affected other aspects of campus life as well, including dining.

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