Photo by Scott Pontoni
SOU's pool goes relatively unused as a result of money and liability issues.
Due to liability and lack of funding, student access to the SOU swimming pool could be in jeopardy.
The Aquatics Club on campus is trying to keep that from happening.
The university has contracts with Rogue Valley Masters, Southern Oregon Water Polo, Phoenix-Talent swim team and the Ashland High School swim team, which pay for the maintenance and cost of repair if necessary.
“Since the community members are paying for it, it is not technically our pool,” said Cori Barnes SOU Aquatics Club president.
In 2007, the paying groups received exclusive use according to former SOU Athletics Director Dennis Francois.
“The contracts are written so that it’s up to the university’s discretion to allow any additional users, whether that be internal or external,” he said.
Barnes and other members of the aquatics club at SOU petitioned and gathered nearly 50 signatures earlier this academic year from students who agreed that they would swim in the pool if given the opportunity.
Some students were “not against the idea of even paying a little money to use the pool,” Barnes said.
The SOU pool is the only official size indoor pool in Jackson County. Various aquatics-oriented clubs and teams in the Rogue Valley raised around $80,000 annually to keep it open.
Currently the SOU Aquatics Club opens the pool to student use Wednesday through Friday, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. but that is in risk of being cut, Barnes said. She met with university administrators on Friday to discuss the issue and why the swim team was eliminated.
“It was a liability to have students in the pool after administrators left McNeal,” said Barnes.
The SOU Aquatics Club has licensed lifeguards who are required to be on duty when students are in the pool. Students are only allowed to swim after signing a release waiver.
“They were offering day swim times but students couldn’t make it in that time,” Barnes said.
Barnes was directed to the Student Fee Committee to request funding for the SOU Aquatics Club.
“If our club becomes successful enough then they will start putting money back into the pool,” she said.