Students feel a certain peace of mind when they use the Activity Center, but should they? Is the maintenance staff more careful about cleaning up scuffmarks than broken glass? Are Activity Center employees better at keeping out students who forgot their Comet Cards than pedophiles and peeping toms? Three incidents at the Activity Center indicate that this may be the case.
The men?s shower area at UTD is divided into private showers with curtains that do not fully shield the bather from view. This provides little privacy for the person showering. However, it provides ample opportunity for the recreational voyeur.
On July 9 of this year, a young boy attending a youth basketball camp at UTD reported that a man was masturbating while watching him shower in the men?s locker room.
That in itself is shocking. Even more appalling is the Activity Center?s casual response. Activity Center Director Tricia Losavio gave us the official spin. UTD police increased patrol and ?worked with Activity Center staff to inform them about behavior to watch for.? She claims that ?the staff remain on alert for such incidents.?
We have reason to believe, however, that this is not the case. We spoke with an Activity Center supervisor who says there was absolutely no meeting with staff after the incident. Employees were never officially informed of the event or given a description of the suspect. Like any other student, our source saw the fliers and heard of the incident by word-of-mouth. Far from being informed and ?on alert,? Activity Center staff are clueless and poorly equipped to prevent this type of incident in the future.
Marco Mavromaras asked Losavio if there were any plans to install better curtains. Losavio encouraged him to file a complaint with the Center. It has been over 6 weeks since he spoke with her and management has not taken the initiative to install decent curtains. In the meantime, police still have not caught the peeping tom.
It doesn?t stop there. On June 4, 2006, a workout session at the Activity Center took a tragic turn when a 73-year-old woman walked out of the women?s locker room, shouted ?Oh my God, ? and then collapsed. According to the police report, the Richardson Fire Department was mobilized and their paramedics took her to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. Student eyewitnesses at the scene claim that the resuscitative measures taken by the Activity Center staff did NOT include the utilization of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). The American Heart Association mandates that the third step in the ?chain of survival? after dispatching 9-1-1 and initiating CPR is early AED application.
According to Losavio, all of the Activity Center staff are trained and certified as AHA Heartsaver CPR providers. An employee we spoke with said this is only true of Activity Center supervisors.
Recently, we approached eight staff members of the Activity Center and quizzed them on the location of the AEDs there. While many knew that the Center definitely has AEDs, only three employees could give their actual location. A typical response was, ?There might be one beside the pool.? In the event of an emergency, however, there is no time for guesses. In moments when mere seconds are critical, every employee of the Activity Center must know where vital equipment such as AEDs are stored so that they can respond in time to save lives.
It?s been said that prevention is better than cure. This does not appear to be an ethic at the Activity Center. In May of this year, a movie-by-the-pool event was hosted at the Activity Center. While dismantling the movie screen after the event, one of the big glass panels in the wall of the Activity Center was broken resulting in hundreds of shards of glass spilling into the area next to the pool.
Responsible institutions, such as Disney World and 24-Hour Fitness, address this by posting warning signs, closing the pool and, depending on the amount of glass (especially in the case of a large glass panel), draining the pool. No warning signs were posted, the glass was briskly swept up, and the incident was swept under the rug. There have been other reported cases of broken glass in sections of the Natatorium. While we have not heard of anyone getting cut in the pool, this is still very troubling.
Needless to say, there should be more action on the part of the Activity Center to prevent future incidents like these and to address them properly when they happen. Students pay for a safe and well-maintained athletic center and deserve the university?s assurance that their trust is not misplaced.