A campus facilities arms race?

It’s all about the aquatics apparently

I’ve posted before about the growth of luxury student accommodation in the US. Now the Education Advisory Board has a report on what it says amounts to a recreation facilities arms race on US campuses:

A paw shaped hot tub you say? Essential.

A paw shaped hot tub you say? Essential.

Auburn University has a 45-person paw-print shaped hot tub, Pensacola Christian College has a $1 million wave rider, Missouri State University has a zip-line over the pool and a lazy river. Ten schools have AquaClimb pool-side rock walls, 35 more are in the works. According to a 2013 NIRSA study, 92 schools reported a combined $1.7 billion in capital projects.”Aquatics are a huge growth area,” says Jack Patton, leader of RDG Planning and Design’s sports facilities group. They are also the most expensive part of a recreation center to run per square foot.

Officials hope that the amenities will help them stand out in prospective students’ minds.It works. Resort-style facilities boost student enrollment, particularly at less-elite schools, according to a 2013 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.At the University of Missouri, each tour stops by the “indoor beach club’s” palm trees, lazy river, waterfall, and grotto modeled after the Playboy Mansion’s.

"The floating lounge chairs, couches, mellow music and plenty of sun help provide a perfect relaxing environment for hard-working students who need a respite from their studies or a change of scenery."

“The floating lounge chairs, couches, mellow music and plenty of sun help provide a perfect relaxing environment for hard-working students who need a respite from their studies or a change of scenery.”

The arms race metaphor is a good one. Is all of this necessary to deliver a good student experience? No, but it does seem to help with recruitment. More palm trees anyone?

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3 thoughts on “A campus facilities arms race?

  1. I’ve just been writing about the University Commons at Minnesota…

    “Live like you mean it at University Commons, the Best in Minneapolis student living! At University Commons you will have the privacy and lifestyle you deserve in an off campus community that is built specifically with you, the college student, in mind…You will also enjoy our amenities including a clubhouse complete with tanning beds, game room, 14-person hot tub, and much more.” http://ucmn.com

    Commons! Who was it that wrote about the semiotics of the beach? – its crucial role in mediating between the body, culture and nature? It is as such essential to the life of the institution. The vital commons. And in the true American way, if there is no beach to be had, make one magically appear.

  2. Pingback: Universities learning from cities | Registrarism

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