Gym's student workers praise monitoring jobs

by Anna Parachkevova | 5/21/04 5:00am

Editor's note: This is the second in a multi-part series on employment conditions for students at the College.

Not all students frequent the Alumni Gym to fight for elliptical machines or tone their biceps.

Sean Furey '04 is one of those rare students who find themselves in the gym not to work out but to get paid for monitoring activities and ensuring the safety of others.

Sitting at the front desk of Kresge Fitness Center, Furey answers the phone, collects College ID cards of people rushing through the door and checks out sports equipment.

In another section of the gym, Michael Hipps '05 sits with a life float in his lap, watching swimmers make laps up and down the lanes of the Karl Michael Swimming Pool.

To ensure that they are prepared to act in case of an emergency, all student employees are required to take a CPR test as part of their formal training.

"It's a pretty safe pool," Hipps said. "But you cannot allow yourself to be distracted."

The lack of emergency situations has given student gym employees the opportunity to observe the behavior of other students, many who are overly concerned with their appearance.

"You definitely see some people here all the time," Furey said. "Guys walking around with their sleeves rolled up and checking themselves out in the mirrors, or girls who are definitely underweight and work out too much."

While Furey, a member of the track team, does not work out himself while on the job, he helps free weight lifters by spotting or shows others how to use machines if they need assistance.

Despite the workload, distractions abound. Occasionally a friend will stumble through the doors and chat with him, he said. In addition to the responsibilities of his job, he often has to resolve minor disputes, especially over the much-coveted elliptical machines, which most users reserve in advance.

"Once in a while, I have to kick someone off the elliptical machines, if they haven't signed on," he explained.

Furey finds that the responsibilities of the job often leave him little time to do homework.

"It's hard to get work done here sometimes," he added.

The busiest hours in the weight room are between 4 and 9 p.m., Furey said. But even at 11 a.m., when most students are in lectures, classes at the gym such as the Fitness Life Improvement Program keep Furey busy.

Unlike Furey, Hipps finds it hard to sit for four hours at a time.

"Sitting here for four hours could be a bit boring sometimes," he said.

Fortunately, he is allowed to take breaks, which he uses to go for a short swim or to walk outside. Hipps, who is not taking classes, started working 20 hours a week as a lifeguard this term. He has worked as a lifeguard before and is also a member of the men's swimming team.

While many of the positions in the gym are filled by athletes, they are open to all students who apply to them.

"A lot of athletes are just around in the gym all the time," Colleen Harrison '05, who works at the front desk in Alumni Gym, said.

Harrison added that coaches often have access to information about open positions, which they forward to students on their teams. As a result, members of a particular team might fill a particular cluster of positions, although non-athletes can land jobs by simply asking, she said.

Most students interviewed by The Dartmouth were satisfied with their jobs and expressed no intention of looking for other, part-time employment on campus.

The most common concern sited has to do with organizational problems such as replacements' punctuality or the ability to find substitutes.