With hopes of reviving the Rollins Scuba Club after a pause in operation due to COVID-19, the club held its first meeting at the beginning of October––attracting over 200 students. Positive aspirations for the program’s return, however, were cut short: without an adequate pool to operate in, the club will cease to exist.
The Alfond Swimming Pool has been closed to Rollins students for the entirety of the semester, with usage reserved for both varsity swim teams. Recreational swimmers and on-campus organizations like the club are prohibited from usage.
“We are virtually unable to run without the Alfond Pool, as no other on-campus pool is deep or big enough and all of our equipment is very heavy and difficult to transport from its current location at the Alfond Pool,” said Molly Dawson (‘22), president of the Scuba Club.
In past years, the Alfond Pool has operated as a shared space between the Rollins Swim Team and recreational users, with daily schedules including open swim time on non-meet days.
Director of Athletics Pennie Parker said that this year’s change is due to a lack of experienced staff available to manage public swim hours. Parker ensured that the concerns of the Scuba Club are heard and that the Athletic Department is actively searching for alternative options to allow the club to operate this year.
Parker said that the choice to restrict usage of the Alfond Swimming Pool was “not a decision about equity, but rather about legislative requirements that require additional staffing and funding to maintain the health and safety of our community members.”
Dawson said that the lack of accessibility to the Alfond Pool for the general public is“absolutely inequitable.”
“The pool has always been open to the entire campus community for recreation and exercise and did not interfere with the varsity swim teams practices or meets,” said Dawson. “Why change this policy now when wellness and health is more important than ever? Our tuition helps maintain the pool and all facilities so how is it fair to bar access to it from the general population?”
On Oct. 20, legislation in support of the Scuba Club was passed unanimously by the senators of SGA.
The Scuba Support Act aims to address and eliminate the barriers faced by the club to operate, bypassing alternative solutions that would negatively impact the accessibility of the program to students, such as utilizing an off-campus swimming facility.
Sydney Boswell, SGA’s Sustainability Senator and sponsor of the Scuba Support Act, felt that “it was our responsibility to support such a large and passionate club on campus.” She hopes that “the passing of our bill incites a helpful discussion to reopen access to the pool, as well as create a standard of equal opportunity for students in the future.”
The Scuba Club has released a petition to urge administration to make the Alfond Pool a public space again. At time of publication, the club has had no response from Rollins administration, according to Dawson.
“We strictly hope for the administration to understand our frustrations and work with us on a new plan to ensure the campus has access to the pool without hindering the performance of the swim team,” Dawson said. “This is much bigger than just the scuba program, this affects the entire campus community.”