The number of St. Thomas graduates coming back to their alma mater and taking advantage of free year-long Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex membership has doubled since last year.
Students receive free access to the AARC for a full year beginning at the end of the term in which they graduate. Although some graduates think the membership is not getting the publicity it should, there are still hundreds of graduates benefitting each month.
Scott Nelson, a graduate assistant at the AARC, said from September to December 2012, an average of 191 recent graduates used the AARC each month. However, from January to February 2013, the AARC has already seen 349 average visits per month from recent graduates.
Nelson said the one-year promotional membership period includes full access to all of the AARC amenities including: the weight room, cardio room, aquatic center, field house, locker rooms, day lockers and Schoenecker Arena during open gym hours.
Although usage is up, graduated students have mixed feelings about the program.
“I just felt very done with St. Thomas when it was all said and done. It’s the same reason why I don’t use the library. You become ready to move on,” 2012 graduate J.R. Mackey said.
Nelson said the Division of Student Affairs decided to offer the membership to graduated students as a means to keep them connected to campus after graduation.
“We felt it was a nice transition from undergraduate life to life as a new St. Thomas alumnus, by continuing to bring students back to campus,” Nelson said.
While graduates like Mackey are not using the perk, others think the one-year membership is extremely beneficial.
“I like being able to work out and go to the sporting events,” 2012 graduate David Brand said. “Plus, I’m not paying anything.”
Although Mackey said he might not come back to use the AARC, he can see why it would be beneficial.
“The first three things you look for when you graduate college I think are, pretty much exactly what you had in college. That is where is the closest place I can get food, where am I sleeping and where can I get a gym membership,” Mackey said. “So that’s actually a pretty nice perk, I mean it’s just as good as any Lifetime (Fitness gym).”
The membership may hold its own compared to other facilities, but many graduates who move outside of the Twin Cities area have to look elsewhere for gym memberships.
“This promo is likely only attractive to new alumni who remain relatively local to campus after graduation,” Nelson said. “Those who are not very local to campus after graduation likely won’t have much incentive to travel here to take advantage of their promo access.”
Mackey said the membership would get used if the university made efforts to advertise the program.
“I think the one thing about the one-year membership program is that it’s like one of St. Thomas’ best-kept secrets honestly. I wasn’t aware of it,” Mackey said. “You don’t get a sheet of paper that says that. It’s pretty much by word of mouth.”
Zach Zumbusch can be reached at email@example.com.