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OP-ED: Should the Mitchell Activity Center (MAC) have longer hours?

The Mitchell Activity Center (MAC) at Central’s campus serves as a recreational space for all students, faculty, and college staff. The MAC has basketball, volleyball, badminton, pickleball, and racquetball courts, and a studio with a great view of Cal Anderson Park for multiple purposes like yoga or dancing. There’s also a gym, locker rooms for storage, bathrooms with showers, a large lounge room with pool tables, chairs, and console games with a nice view of Broadway. Currently, guest passes are not allowed, but there is a waiting room for them. Also, the locker rooms are available only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Francisco Fonseca | The Seattle Collegian Studio room for multiple uses at the MAC 

I spoke with Sammy Faust, the new MAC manager as of January 2024. Faust and I talked about MAC’s current situation and future. Much of the information in this article is taken from that interview. Faust is very excited about her new position and is looking forward to improving the MAC and making students more engaged with the MAC’s offerings. There are tons of ideas and plans, but realistically, there are limitations. So, we discussed some of them. 

One of the main concerns I brought up is the MAC’s operating hours for students. Currently, the MAC is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s closed during weekends, but available for paid court reservations in advance, as well as late evening hours during the week. Student clubs and college departments can make free reservations in the MAC during regular open hours via Student Leadership or 25Live. 

Francisco Fonseca | The Seattle Collegian MAC’s lounge room with pool tables and console games in the background 

I believe it would be an improvement if the MAC were available for longer hours in the evening. For students like me who work part-time and take full-time classes on campus, it can be challenging to find a time between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for a 30-45 minute gym session.

Students, faculty, and staff looking to use the MAC facility need an ID card to access it, and it’s checked at the front desk upon entry. Additionally, it is required to pay the $60 quarter fee beforehand at the cashier’s office or via ctcLink after emailing them. 

Faust says the most active time to check in to access the MAC is around 4 p.m., and there might be a possibility of extending the MAC’s hours until 6 p.m.. 

Trying to extend hours later in the evening would be experimenting. If the MAC’s operating hours were extended, staff would be informed because, of course, more hours means more work time for current staff to cover. Then, see how that experiment goes – if members use the extended hours or not. 

Francisco Fonseca | The Seattle Collegian MAC’s basketball court 

Currently, there are three non-student and eighteen student staff working at the MAC. Extending hours would require budget changes, and their budget is provided by the Auxiliary Services department of Seattle Central College. Every March of the year, each department submits a budget proposal to the school for the following year’s budget. The budget for the change would have to be submitted this coming March, and that would depend on what the MAC can offer and be limited to next year. 

I also asked some current students who use the MAC what they think about the idea of the MAC having longer opening hours.

Andre Bacon, a current Seattle Central College student, said, “The MAC being open for reasonable hours would be great for students who would rather go to the gym later in the evening. If the MAC was open until around 8:30 p.m., it would benefit students who end classes around 4 p.m.. It means they don’t have to rush their workouts.” 

Then, I asked him how longer hours would impact MAC members, and he said that “it will be a positive thing for all students; it is beneficial for students’ physical health and more hours for students who need more working out hours.” 

Centaine How, a current student, agreed that it would be a positive change for students if the MAC was open longer hours. 

I also thought of asking about the weightlifting club at our school, a club for learning about different kinds of bodybuilding. Understandably, some of their members use the gym regularly for their club focuses and personal common interests, so I asked them in general. They also told The Seattle Collegian that most of their members would prefer the MAC to have longer opening hours or find it convenient.

Francisco Fonseca A section of the MAC’s gym 

It is sometimes difficult to have a healthy social life. In one of our recent articles, Rhiannon Phillips talks about loneliness. As we all know, college life can be demanding, leaving students with limited time to relax and destress. Extending the hours of our activity center could provide students with a welcoming space to unwind, socialize, and engage in activities that contribute to their overall well-being. Students could build connections and friendships. It could be a worthy investment for our students’ holistic development and success. 

I have created a form to gather the opinions of students and anyone with a valid ctcLink ID who can become a MAC member. The form is a poll for submitting your response either agreeing or disagreeing on the MAC having longer hours open in the evening, and if this would be a positive change for their members. Here’s the link to share your opinion and submit your response: https://forms.office.com/r/fz8zSEh8ba

Let us know what you think!

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