After raising over $15 million to renovate the Ringe Squash Courts on Penn’s campus, Penn Athletics received significant pushback from alumni, faculty, and students as a result of their decision to charge country club-level fees to use the squash facility.
As a result of that feedback, on Oct. 10, Penn Athletics sent an email to members announcing changes to the pricing model. Though faculty, community members, and alumni will still have to pay significant fees, students will now be able to access the facility for free.
Previously, students had to pay $10 per 45 minute session during peak hours and five dollars during non-peak hours. For non-student members, base membership rates cost $82.50 for faculty and $150 for non-faculty and courts cost $20 an hour during peak times and $10 an hour during non-peak times. A promotion is also currently running that allows for unlimited court reservations at an annual membership rate of $750.
Bruce Marks, who donated more than $10,000 to the renovations and has been adamant in his opposition to the new pricing model, said he is proud of the Penn community for collaborating in the effort to reduce the cost of using Ringe Squash Courts.
“I am told that the uproar caused by students, donors like Martin Franklin and myself, alums, and the DP editorial has resulted in Penn rescinding its ill-conceived policy of charging students to play squash. Squash will now be free to students, as it has been since the Ringe courts were opened in 1959,” Marks said.
“We listened to the feedback from several campus community groups which included students, faculty/staff, alumni, and donors to the squash center," Senior Associate AD/Chief Operations Officer Scott Ward wrote in a statement. “We decided to increase access to free play for all students through a reservation and walk-up process that is easily manageable."
“We’re currently running a promotion for all faculty/staff and former Ringe players which is heavily discounted from the base membership price. We also created another level of membership which includes a Fox Fitness Center membership, and for the remainder of this year, a free locker rental in the Tse Sports Center. We will soon begin programming in the Penn Squash Center to continue to build the squash community at Penn and showcase our world-class facility.”
Still, Marks thinks there is more work to be done.
“Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for Penn’s administration to communicate before setting policy and students that speaking out makes a difference," Marks said. “Meanwhile, Penn still needs to revisit the exorbitant annual fees being charged to faculty and alums, especially recent alums, who cannot afford $750 per year to play.”
Even if prices for non-students get reduced, it will likely be too late for this year, as many faculty have already booked memberships elsewhere.
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