Simply put, colleges today are competing for new students in other than academically oriented ways. And in unbelievably expensive ways as well. You see, it's not just at or near the athletic complex where the big time entertainment money on campus is being spent.
Want a few examples of the ways taxpayer funds and money raised by student loans and other debts can be used to attract students in order to "enhance" their college experience? Well, read on and be amazed.
Making a Splash on Campus is subtitled 'College Recreation Now Includes Pool Parties and River Rides:'
But with dozens of schools (including some of its Southeastern Conference rivals) building the water rides, the university had to do one better: When its lazy river is finished in 2016, it will spell out the letters “LSU”. . . .
“The students involved in the planning process wanted something cooler than what anyone else had,” said Laurie Braden, the school’s director of recreation....
In the university recreation center arms race — with 92 schools reporting over $1.7 billion in capital projects . . . the latest thing is to turn a piece of campus into something approaching a water theme park.
At Auburn University in Alabama, for example, students can soak in a 45-person paw-print-shaped hot tub or scale a 20-foot wet climbing wall before plunging into the pool. Designs for North Dakota State’s facility, on which construction is scheduled to begin next year, include a zip line that students can ride out over the water, a 36-foot-diameter vortex of swirling water and a recessed fireplace on an island in the middle of the pool that students can swim up to. A small “rain garden” is planned to mist lounging students.
Over at Clemson University in South Carolina, there’s talk of redeveloping a 38-acre property on Lake Hartwell, across from the current rec center. The project may include “blobs,” essentially floating mattresses placed so that students can jump from one to another. . . .
“Aquatics are a huge growth area,” said Jack Patton, who leads the sports-facilities group at RDG Planning and Design, an architecture firm in Des Moines. “A lot of students don’t want to swim laps, but a leisure pool is a great equalizer: I can get my toes wet, I can play, I can study or I can go full in.”. . .
The focus on pools for play comes with a shift in university rec centers from just places to sweat to more social spaces, complete with hangout areas. Sun loungers, water slides and projectors for “dive-in” movies at the pool are a part of that. . . .
Texas Tech holds a pool party during the first week of school to show off two acres that include a Texas-size lazy river, water slide and terraced wet deck for tanning. (There’s Wi-Fi, too.) . . .
“As it gets warmer, you start seeing less people in class,” . . . “Everyone will say, ‘Let’s go float the river.’ There will be, like, 300 people there, and there won’t be any inner tubes or rafts left.”
With college costs climbing and outstanding student loan debt at a record $1.2 trillion, schools justify these facilities as important for recruitment and retention. Classrooms can look alike, but pools are a memorable tour stop for prospective students, especially, say, at the University of Missouri, where guides show off the indoor beach club’s palm trees, lazy river and waterfall, and coyly announce that the grotto was modeled after the one at the Playboy Mansion . . . ."