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SOU pool decision short-sighted

You can add my name as another voice of concern and disappointment for SOU’s decision to not include a swimming pool in the $29 million expansion of the Student Recreation Center and McNeal Pavilion.

This process obviously began long ago, and yet I am unaware of any opportunity for the “community” to weigh in on this project. Unless I am misinformed, Southern Oregon University continues to be a public institution supported in part by state and local tax dollars.

My observations during my 23-year history in our community is that the SOU pool has been in gradual decline. The services offered and the availability of the pool to students and the community have weakened.

Minimal resources have been directed to keep the facility viable, including the state of the locker rooms, bathrooms and showers. The hours have dwindled, the classes reduced and the neglect has influenced perceptions understandably.

It appears that the decision-makers at SOU prefer to use the long-term neglect of the pool to justify eliminating it. This is extremely short-sighted and unacceptable, especially since it appears these decisions have been made in a vacuum.

If the pool is demolished, then the only competition pool in the Rogue Valley will evaporate for swim teams, water polo, Masters swim, lap swimming and, of course, SOU programs.

I implore the decision-makers to reconsider and at the very least create a more transparent process that includes the actual permanent community of SOU as well as wider outreach to the student body. The process should be transparent and reflect the highest of standards that SOU has been struggling to achieve in other areas.

I wish I knew who the committee members are, and how the stakeholders can weigh in.

This is too important to be pushed under the rug. This decision will have long-term consequences, including the effect on how SOU is perceived in our community. This includes present and future students and faculty that consider attending or working at the university.

Risa Buck lives in Ashland.