Students visiting the University of South Dakota Wellness Center this semester may notice something new about the 61,000 square-foot facility.
A new policy implemented for the spring semester requires the wearing of shirts by all members in order to reduce the spread of virus or disease caused by skin-to-skin contact.
Steve Mayer, director of the USD Wellness Center, said the decision to put the new rule in place was one that should have been made long ago.
“This is a rule plenty of other Wellness Centers have put in place,” Mayer said. “It is bad enough that legs and arms can be exposed, but there is nothing we can really do about that.”
According to Mayer, there is no incidence of the transfer of virus or disease that led to the new guideline.
The enactment of the policy has included the ban of the long-standing “shirts versus skins” format of pick-up basketball at the Wellness Center.
Sophomore Trever Serr frequently participates in pick-up basketball games at the
Wellness Center and said the policy is a major inconvenience to him and his fellow players.
“We couldn’t figure out whose team we were on,” Serr said. “And I was especially getting mad because they said they would give us reversibles but they only gave us five so we had to share them, which is disgusting.”
Mayer said colored jerseys are available at the front desk by those wishing to utilize them for pick-up basketball games, but are distributed on a check out basis.
Mayer said the policy does not apply to merely the basketball courts, but for the entire gym.
Surfaces such as weight benches and other weight lifting equipment pose a major threat in the passing of skin viruses and diseases.
According to Mayer the rule was handed down for the Dean of Students office, and put into action immediately following the start of the spring semester.
Serr doesn’t see the policy lasting long.
“I think they are going to try and keep (the policy) going,” Serr said. “But I could see students making a group and going in to talk to the Dean of Students to try and get it switched back because it is such an inconvenience.”
At this stage, there is no penalty for violating the policy, but if a gym member is seen not wearing a shirt, the Wellness Center staff merely requests the shirt be put back on.
“We have had to introduce plenty of violators to the new rule, but we haven’t had an occasion wherein drastic measures had to be taken,” Mayer said. “If there are people really opposed to this new policy they haven’t made themselves heard yet.”
While the shirt requirement has been implemented for nearly a month, Serr said there are still many who oppose the rule.
“A couple people have grown accustomed to it because they just follow the rules and that’s how it’s going to be,” Serr said. “But there are a lot of people that are still strongly against it.”