August 1, 2018

University Stands Firm On Gym Memberships

By Anne Levin

Earlier this summer, Princeton University informed members of the local community who have been using the school’s Dillon Gymnasium and Stephens Fitness Center that they would no longer be able to buy memberships for use of the pool, squash courts, and other facilities. That did not go over well.

But despite an outcry among this group and appeals to the University to reconsider, the decision is firm. As of January 1, 2019, the gym memberships will no longer be offered to the general public, some of whom have been using the pool for decades.

“We understand the disappointment regarding the decision to no longer offer general memberships to these facilities,” wrote University spokesman Michael Hotchkiss in an email when asked if the University was planning to reconsider. “This decision was not made lightly or quickly. We know participants valued the program, but we are confident alternatives are available.”

A letter sent to members in June read, “Due to space constraints and growing demand from students, faculty, and staff on campus fitness and recreation facilities, the University determined it will no longer offer gym memberships to the general public starting January 1, 2019. Fortunately there are numerous fitness and recreation facilities available in town and nearby offering similar programs and facilities that had been available on campus.”

In letters to Town Topics’ Mailbox, several people have expressed their disappointment that the pool, in particular, would no longer be available. A letter on July 3 said the closing was announced without informing anyone affected by the decision until it was too late, calling it “a swift, simplistic, and secretive decision that was also the ultimate in hypocrisy.”

On July 25, another reader wrote “at the very least the University should allow all grandfathered members to continue their membership until such time that the directors sitting in their lofty towers can figure out how to embrace our community in the way it deserves.”

In its June letter, the University apologized to members of any inconvenience and thanked them for their patronage over the years. It also included a list of other local recreation facilities that offer similar services including the Princeton YMCA, Princeton Fitness & Wellness, New York Sports Clubs, Pretty Brook Tennis Club, and Life Time Athletic.