PULLMAN, Wash. — What’s there for students to do at WSU?

When it opens in January, they will likely answer: “Let’s go to the Student Recreation Center!”

Construction of the $39 million facility, on North Fairway Road west of Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum, started in March of 1999. Expected to be completed in December, the center will go into operation Jan. 16 when spring semester classes begin, according to Kathleen Hatch, interim associate director of university recreation at WSU.

“As WSU has searched for meaningful ways to contribute to campus life, the Student Recreation Center couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Hatch, who formerly directed the WSU intramural sports program.

She recognizes that “although the excitement has started, the impact of this state-of-the-art facility will not be truly appreciated until it opens. I can hardly wait to see how many students will enjoy it and be completely overwhelmed by the opportunities.”

Student recreation centers on other university campuses around the country attract up to 95 percent of the student body. “This is far more than anyone projects. It’s the mystique of a new building. Once students are in, they are all sold on it. We expect the same for WSU,” she said.

A student referendum in April 1997 approved the project by a 63.7 percent vote — 1,997 yes, 1,120 no. When the center opens, there will be a mandatory fee of $100 per full-time student per semester, Hatch said. There will be a graduated fee structure for part-time and summer session students. The fees are to retire the loan debt and, if enrollment increases, partially contribute to operational expenses.

The University Recreation Governing Board –11 students and three university representatives — is making decisions regarding membership policies. Currently, faculty and staff and spouses/partners of students, faculty and staff will be permitted to use the Student Recreation Center. Decisions regarding children/dependents, retirees and alumni are pending.

Steve Wymer, Associated Students of WSU president and University Recreation Governing Board member, believes the center is “an amazing example of students’ initiative and ability to improve the campus. This has been a project that has involved students in every step: planning, designing, equipping and eventually operating.”

The center will have 155,000 gross square feet with 127,000 square feet (75 percent) useable area. It will feature seven gymnasiums, including one with sport court surface designated for roller hockey and indoor soccer.

It will also have three large multipurpose rooms, a 17,000-plus-square-foot cardio-vascular/weight area; four racquetball courts, two of them adaptable for squash; an elevated four-lane, eight-laps-to-a-mile indoor jogging/walking track; and lounge/fireplace/food and wellness areas.

Highlights of the center’s leisure pool include a 25-yard, five-lane lap pool area. A leisure pool might include a 20 x 40-foot water volleyball court. Adjacent to the leisure pool will be the largest spa on the west coast, Hatch said. The spa will hold 10,000 gallons of water with a 400-gallon-a-minute waterfall flowing over the edge.

“The Student Recreation Center will be the first and last stop of any campus tour for years to come, and it will ultimately be a legacy for all WSU students to have enormous pride in,” said Wymer.

For up-to-date information on the WSU Student Recreation Center, visit the Web site at http://cub.wsu.edu/rec-center/.