Why is the lower level fitness center door now an emergency exit

At the beginning of this semester, the emergency exit alarm was activated on the downstairs door of the fitness center in the Peterson Athletic Complex. Some gym goers, accustomed to using the door to exit the gym, inadvertently trigger the alarm by pushing on the door. The door is locked from the outside and people must enter through the main entrance of the sports complex. Using the main entrance means going around the outside for almost the entire length of the sports complex, passing through the corridors inside before reaching the fitness center itself.

Gym-goers who were accustomed to using the door continued to use it on their way out. However, a terrible alarm will sound for approximately 15 seconds, causing great anxiety to others exercising.

Huthefa Maalin ‘24.5 is a fitness center monitor. He noticed that gym goers kept using the door and setting off the alarm.

“It’s really annoying, especially when you’re just trying to do your job and someone walks through the door and sets off the alarm,” Maalin said. “It’s also too late to stop them because they’re already through the door.”

The alarm had not been installed on the door since last semester, although the door was locked from the outside. Gym patrons were able to leave the fitness center through the door, but were unable to enter that way. To allow other gym goers to enter the door, students regularly placed small stones in the door frame to prevent the door from locking.

In a joint email to The Campus, Director of Athletics Erin Quinn and Assistant Director of Athletics for Operations and Events Franklin Dean-Farrar explained that they have now resumed using only the downstairs door as an emergency exit.

“We have temporarily reconfigured the entrance and exit of the athletics complex to provide additional access through the rear of the fitness center as part of our Covid-19 protocols,” Quinn and Dean-Farrar said in their joint statement.

Students and visitors are instructed to use the front doors of the Athletic Complex as the main entrance. Quinn and Dean-Farrer said there are monitors at the front desk of the sports complex and in the fitness center who are available to answer questions and may ask for identification. The main gates of the Athletic Complex are the only ones equipped with ID-scanners; however, these doors are not locked, so students and other ID holders do not need to scan.

“We experimented with keeping them locked, but that made it difficult for visitors to access the building (eg, prospective students and families, alumni, game spectators.),” Quinn and Dean-Farrar said. “We’re leaving the doors open so these people can access the building.”

Quinn and Dean-Farrer also noted that Middlebury ID holders are allowed to bring a guest to access the facilities. Those who do not have an ID card usually check in at the front desk and can tour the facilities. Limiting access points to the facility and staffing the front desks increase security at the athletic complex, Quinn and Dean-Farrer said.

However, it is up to the monitor’s discretion to ask to see an ID card. “There is a monitor at the reception and at the fitness center reception. They are available to answer questions but also to report any concerns and may ask for identification,” Quinn and Dean-Farrer said.

Maalin said she rarely wants to see someone’s ID when she walks into the gym.

“I don’t usually identify people because I know most of them and I’ve seen them all over campus,” Maalin said. “I specifically identify someone when I ask: Who is this person? Usually when they look like adults, not students.”

Abby Schneiderhan ’23 is a member of the team and a regular at the fitness center. Schneiderhan said he did not understand the decision to close the bottom door.

“I don’t understand why they close the bottom door if they don’t ask us for ID at the main entrance anyway,” Schneiderhan said. β€œIt’s more convenient to use the bottom door. Especially when I want to use the weight equipment, I just want to start my workout faster and not have to walk as much.”

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