Free membership for staff at SPN center all year

Photo by Devinee Amin | Mercury Staff

The SPN Wellness Center will be available to all faculty, staff and affiliates for no cost starting Jan. 17.

After the 2022 campus climate survey, two complaints were brought to UTD’s upper staff and supervisors‘ attention. Staff had limited access to wellness benefits, and some employees couldn’t access needed showers after walking or biking to campus. These resources were primarily limited by operational problems and monetary costs. Vice President and Chief of Staff Rafael Martín helped develop this policy in response to staff feedback.

“One of the points of emphasis that came out of the campus climate survey was a desire for more wellness resources for employees at UT Dallas, and this was one of those things we considered that was fairly easy to implement,” Martín said. “We felt like this was something — after I consulted with a few people — that we could make available free of charge to faculty and staff.”

This most recent addition adds a new page to the UTD Employee Wellness Program, specifically under the Employee Assistance Program section. Staff no longer need to purchase the $65 per semester staff pass or the $195 annual pass to access any facility. The SPN Wellness Center, located north of Synergy Park Blvd. next to the UTD testing center, is the only facility that will now be free for staff.

Staff can also visit for a workout or exercise class any weekday from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 am, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The facility provides staff with free weights, circuit training machines and cardio machines. Unlike the Activity Center, however, none of these resources are covered or paid for through the student recreation fee, as they are maintained by campus budgeting. The center also provides new accommodations to staff members who can’t drive to work.

“Employees who may commute via bike or other means of transportation [can] use those facilities to shower and change before reporting to work, and can do so free of charge,” Martín said. ”They just need to contact the REC official to get a free pass.”

Students — with the exception of athletes — are generally not allowed into the facility, as the SPN Wellness Center remains private and focuses on the benefit of employees.

“Student Employees would already be covered under the university recreation fee,” Martín said. “The facility is not open to students, generally speaking, unless they’re student athletes.”

The policy is maintained as a benefit for employees who are eligible for the UT System Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) and UTD Human Resources benefits, which student employees do not usually qualify for.

“I see [this policy] lasting for the foreseeable future,” Dr. Martín said. “Hopefully we’ll have more wellness initiatives across campus in the not so distant future, both in response to the climate survey and just as an additional benefit to university employees.”

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