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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Why a lower-level fitness center door is now an emergency exit

When students pass through the lower-level door, they now set off an emergency exit alarm.
When students pass through the lower-level door, they now set off an emergency exit alarm.

Early this semester, an emergency exit alarm was armed on the downstairs door of the fitness center in the Peterson Athletics Complex. Some gym-goers, accustomed to using the door to exit the fitness center, inadvertently set off the alarm by pushing the door. The door is locked from the outside and people must enter through the main entrance of the athletic complex. Using the main entrance means walking around the outside of nearly the entire length of the athletic complex, navigating through corridors inside, before arriving at the fitness center itself.

Gym-goers who were accustomed to using the door continued to use it while exiting. However, a horrible alarm would sound for approximately 15 seconds, causing a great disturbance to others who are working out.

Huthefa Maalin ‘24.5 is a monitor at the fitness center. He noticed gym-goers continuing to use the door and setting off the alarm.

“It's really bothersome, especially when you are just trying to do your thing and someone goes through the door and sets off the alarm,” Maalin said. “It is also too late to stop them because they have already gone through the door.”

The alarm had not been installed on the door as of last semester, although the door was locked from the outside. Gym attendees could leave the fitness center through the door but were unable to enter that way. To allow other gym-goers to enter through the door, students regularly placed small pebbles in the doorframe to prevent the door from locking.

In a joint email to The Campus, Director of Athletics Erin Quinn and Assistant Director of Athletics for Operations and Events Franklin Dean-Farrar explained that they have now resumed only using the downstairs door as an emergency exit.

“We temporarily reconfigured the entry and exit of the athletics complex to provide additional access via the back of the fitness center, as part of our Covid-19 protocols,” Quinn and Dean-Farrar said in their joint statement.

Students and visitors are instructed to use the front doors of the Athletics Complex as the main entry point. Quinn and Dean-Farrar said there are monitors working at the front desk of the Athletic Complex and at the Fitness Center who are available to answer questions and may ask for an ID. The main doors to the Athletic Complex are the only ones equipped with ID-scanners; however these doors are not locked, so students and other ID-holders do not have to scan in.

“We experimented with keeping those locked, but it made it difficult for visitors to access the building (e.g. prospective students and families, alumni, spectators for games.),” said Quinn and Dean-Farrar. “We leave the doors open so those people may access the building.”

Quinn and Dean-Farrar also noted that Middlebury ID holders are allowed to bring a guest to access the facilities. Those who do not have an ID typically check in at the front desk and may tour the facilities. Limiting the points of access to the facility and staffing the front desks enhance the security of the athletics complex, Quinn and Dean-Farrar said.

However, it is up to the discretion of the monitor to ask to see an ID. “There is a monitor at the front desk and at the front desk of the fitness center. They are available to answer questions, but also to report any concerns and they may ask for an ID,” Quinn and Dean-Farrar said.

Maalin said that he would rarely ask to see someone’s ID when they enter the fitness center.

“I usually don’t ID people because I know most of the people, and I have seen them all over the campus,” said Maalin. “Specifically I ID someone when I ask: Who is this person? Usually when they look like they’re older and not a college student.”

Abby Schneiderhan ‘23 is a member of the crew team and regularly visits the fitness center. Schneiderhan said she does not understand the decision to close the bottom door.

“I don’t understand why they close the bottom door if they don’t ask for our ID in the main entrance anyways,” Schneiderhan said. “It’s more convenient to use the bottom door. Especially when I want to use the weights equipment, I just want to start my workout faster and not have to walk so much.”

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