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Volume 68, Issue 118, Tuesday, March 25, 2003


Despair: Squirrels in spandex

Richard Lutz
Opinion Columnist

It has been a longtime goal of mine to know an area well enough to walk around it with my eyes closed. Therefore, I went out the other night and was nearly halfway around campus when I slammed into an unexpected hard surface.

The squirrels always follow me in my wanderings, hoping that Iill be run over by a speeding truck while crossing the parking lot. I asked them what this obstacle was. "The tower of despair," they said. So I took off my blindfold to see if it was really E. Cullen.

But no ­ it was a new, fascinating structure known as "Rek Senter." A group of burly rodents told me its story.

A number of squirrels on campus are engage in sports, but the Garrison/Melcher complex doesn't meet their needs because all athletes in the complex end up practicing in the racquetball courts, which are concrete bunkers deep underground. So the elders met and decided to build a new place, where students and squirrels alike could do any sports thing they want.

Well, the squirrels told me, that the martial arts area is shortchanged. True, there is a "combat room," but it is both small and hidden. There are no punching bags ­ as opposed to the University of Texas-Austin, which has a large martial arts room with bags for punching and kicking. But the rock climbing area is cool, so itis forgivable.

But thereis more, they said. Physical education classes automatically have priority over other activities. So if your sports club reserves a room this semester for next Fall, and an aerobics class decides during the second week of Fall classes that they want it, you will no longer have your room. This seems reasonable except for the part where you, the squirrel (or student), must reschedule or relocate your practice because somebody else wasnit organized. Thatis bureaucracy for you.

Oh, forget about the part where anybody can participate. They havenit installed metal detectors yet, but the security gate only allows you in if you show ID. Students get in for "free" (ignoring the $75 fee), but there are fees indoors for "equipment use." Sneaky. Visitors must pay to enter unless you arrange passes for them beforehand. Take note if you plan on hosting a tournament and donit want the players to be turned away at the door. Faculty and staff are charged several-hundred-dollar membership fees. A friend called it a "money sponge" ­ if you touch it, bye-bye cash.

This is the truth of a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art Rek Senter. It costs money. Costs must be covered if you want something for everyone. The squirrels even tell me that the sculpture-like thing in the yard, instead of being a waste of our fees, is an excellent spot for nesting and nut-storage.

Finally, they told me that itis the "tower of despair" because squirrels look terrible in spandex. The horror ... the horror.

Lutz, a senior English and German major, can be reached at


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