Student Clubs, Staff Vie for MAC Space

News Feature

Although the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC) cannot accommodate the increased demands placed upon it for intramural and recreational space, the University has left the nearest available athletic space in limbo for the past decade and has no plans to upgrade it, administrators say.

As interest in health and fitness has increased and as the number of athletic recreational and dance clubs has grown, leaders of undergraduate organizations complain that they have been denied rooms at the already-full MAC.

With the increase in interest and the lack of space, Associate Director of Athletics John Wentzell, who is in charge of scheduling space at the MAC, says he turns away many organizations he would like to accommodate in the MAC's mezzanine and practice rooms.

And Wentzell says he has been parcelling what little space there is out in blocks of two hours a week, leaving student groups scrounging for places to practice.

"We do 10 hours of practice each week but only get two hours in the MAC," Crimson Dance Team member Roxanne S. Pan '96 says.

"We get space in the Agassiz dance studio, if we can, or the Lowell lecture hall, and sometimes in basketball courts, but those are usually taken by [intramurals]," she says.

Despite the lack of space, Wentzell and David Zewinski, senior vice president for property operations and construction, say there are no active plans to increase the amount of multi-function space that Harvard can provide to undergraduate, staff or faculty groups.

Athletes, however, will have new playing spaces as soon as Harvard can afford them. Harvard plans to build a tennis and racquet facility in Allston which, according to project manager George Oommen, will be completed within the next two years once funding is secured.

The new facility is needed because Harvard's current squash courts do not meet the larger, international dimensions which are increasingly being used and because Harvard has only three intercollegiate-quality tennis courts.

The facility will have a weight room, according to Oommen, but will not have space for recreational groups.

The Linden Street Squash courts, which Zewinski calls "disused," have been in their current state for a decade, according to Wentzel, but there are no plans to upgrade or replace them.

Zewinski says that Harvard is researching what could be done with them, but says that the possibilities currently under consideration do not include athletics.

Student groups, already using the dilapidated Linden St. space for make-shift practice rooms, say the College should consider providing new multi-function practice spaces which all groups could use.

The organizations using the Linden Street space include the Harvard Wireless Club, the Harvard Polo Club, the table tennis club and the Ballet Folkorico de Aztlan, a group which performs Mexican folk dances.

Ballet President Faustino G. Ramos '96 says his group uses the Linden Street space to avoid damaging the MAC's floors.