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Speaking Out

A Membership for All Seasons

This November will mark two years that I’ve been working at Penn. It will also be only the third month in which I’ve been a member of the Pottruck Center.

Why did I wait so long to join? Because of the maddening billing system Penn Rec has in place for University employees.

I actually signed up for an annual membership on July 18 but had to wait until September 1 for it to take effect. I could have joined up for the summer session but declined when I found out that although there was only a month and a half left, I’d still have to pay the entire $150 for a summer-only membership.

Pottruck is a nice facility but for $100 a month they better include a free session with a personal trainer or at least a nutritionist.

I believe this same billing policy applies for other times of the year as well. In other words, if you sign up to use the gym two months into the semester, you still have to pay the full amount for that semester.

Many times I’ve inquired about the membership fees and from what I’m told the problem has to do with Penn Rec’s billing being done by semester and not by calendar or fiscal year.

What’s curious is that my previous employer, Temple University, had somehow figured out how to make it possible for an employee to sign up to use the gym at any time of the year and charged only $8.33 a month to use facilities that are every inch as nice as Penn’s (o.k. Penn’s got a bigger rock wall).

I don’t expect Penn to lower its fees but I can’t believe there’s no way they can’t make it possible for employees to sign up to use the gym when they want and not be penalized.

—Matt Gray, News Officer,
Office of Communications

Response from Recreation

The Department of Recreation would like to respond to Matt Gray’s comments regarding membership to recreation facilities at the University of Pennsylvania.

Most campus recreation facilities operate during an academic year schedule without the use of an anniversary date for annual membership. This operational procedure has been established because of time and costs associated with tracking memberships.

Annual memberships to on-campus recreational facilities at Penn are sold from September to September at significantly discounted rates that allow faculty/staff to purchase annual memberships at anytime during the academic year through payroll/check deduction at fees less than the semester rates. Additionally, three pro ration periods are offered. Information on memberships is communicated through the Penn Rec Guide, Departmental website, and in person contact with our membership office. Membership information is offered to new faculty/staff during the academic year orientation programs. During the academic year, free recreation programs are offered to members during the Fall/Spring semesters (preview Classes and Stress Relief Weeks).

Being very familiar with the Temple Recreation Services, the membership program at Temple is very similar to Penn’s, as Temple’s annual membership is sold mid-August to August and is collected directly through the Bursar’s office through a 12-month payroll deduction option. Should a faculty/staff member decide to join other than the August period, fees are collected much like Penn’s until the annual membership starts. Once in Temple’s payroll deduction system, the fees are collected by the Bursar until notification is given not to renew by the member. At Penn, yearly notification must be given by the member to allow for the payroll deduction.

Our Department believes information on our annual membership program is made available to faculty and staff about our state-of-the-art facilities that allows an individual to make a responsible decision on membership.

Our Department welcomes Matt Gray and hopes that his experiences with our programs, facilities and 16,000 members are good ones.

Our Department understands Matt Gray’s frustration and will review how to incorporate the summer session fees and pro ration into the annual membership.

—Michael Diorka, Director,
Recreation, Sport Programs & Services

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following
Tuesday’s issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. —Eds.

  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 2, September 6, 2005


September 6, 2005
Volume 52 Number 2


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