Fitness Center Opens on U.S.M. Gulf Park Campus

Wednesday was the grand opening of a new fitness center on Southern Miss’ Gulf Park campus. The university system constructed the new facility after students staged a protest earlier this year, demanding equal treatment for the Coast campus.

Students and faculty kick it up a notch in the brand new group exercise room at U.S.M. Nicole Davis, a student, says, “They’re going to be offering Zumba and yoga. I’m so excited about the classes.”

The new fitness center is free to students and only a small cost to faculty. Gulf Park students say they’re finally starting to feel equal to the Hattiesburg campus. Davis also says, “I kind of feel left out because everything happens up in Hattiesburg, so it feels good like they listened to us, like we’re a part of U.S.M.”

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The new fitness center has rooms for cardio aerobics, weight lifting, and group exercises. It’s all part of a one million dollar upgrade and it stems from a student protest earlier this year. In April, relations between Gulf Park students and Hattiesburg administrators were strained because of administrative changes in the university system. The Coast students were also upset for being charged tuition equal to students at the Hattiesburg campus, but having fewer amenities.

The university administration heard the students loud and clear and in June, the campus began construction on new facilities, including a health clinic and fitness center. Christy Bjork-Elias, Student Affairs Director at the Gulf Park campus, says, “At the end of the day, it’s really what the students need and what they want, and they wanted this fitness facility and we are open at 6 a.m. and we will close at 8 p.m.”

The Gulf Park administration tells News 25 that feedback about the new facilities from the students has been overwhelmingly positive. Davis closes, “It was just great that they actually listened and they heard us, and this next semester we have it.”

The strained relationship between the Gulf Park students and the Hattiesburg administration may finally be working itself out.