Campus students express negative response toward RSF reservation policy

Photo of RSF building
William Webster/File
As the fall semester comes to a beginning, some UC Berkeley students find that reserving slots at the Recreational Sports Facility has become increasingly difficult given the recent student move-ins.

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On Tuesday, UC Berkeley freshman Henric Zhang walked into the Recreational Sports Facility, or RSF, and observed the spacious gym; the abundance of treadmills and weight-lifting racks lined the front of the facility.

Three days ago, Zhang was confused by the process of securing a reservation, but he felt thankful for acquiring a spot given that the RSF is the only facility providing him space to workout. Unfortunately, many other students have not been so lucky, sparking an online Reddit thread with campus students discussing a potential protest against the current reservation policy.

“There are just so many people and I think you have to get lucky,” Zhang said. He further alleged, “They also don’t really enforce their own rules. They said students can only have three slots a week, but some students may try to sign up for more than three and they don’t really check that.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and school reopening, the RSF works to serve campus students and community, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff. However, because of COVID-19, the RSF is also maintaining capacity limits, requiring face coverings indoors, limiting lap swims to 45 minutes and restricting gym access to 80 minutes per person.

Zhang said he underwent a daily COVID-19 screening and was required to show his campus ID at the RSF door in order to use the facility. Although he was able to obtain a spot at the RSF, he still finds the reservation process “very difficult, like a supreme drop.”

“Once it opens for every time slot, it pretty much just closes immediately and it takes forever to load because so many people want a spot and there is, quite honestly, not that many spots available,” Zhang said.

He noted some campus students said they have had greater difficulty securing a reservation at the gym since freshmen move-in day.

Students may sign up for a reservation spot, even if they are not certain they will go to the gym, Zhang stated. If a student does not show up to their reservation spot, that position cannot be filled by another student.

“We understand the frustrations some of our necessary precautions may cause for some students,” Ratliff said in an email. “We appreciate their patience and cooperation in helping reduce virus transmission in our community.”

Zhang predicted that the reservation process in the first two weeks of school may be difficult. As the semester proceeds, however, many students will likely abandon their workout schedule and more reservation spots will open.

Ratliff added that any future changes to the reservation policy at the RSF will depend on the evolving pandemic.

Since issues surrounding the RSF’s COVID-19 restrictions are difficult to resolve, the RSF is “doing well” given the circumstances, according to Zhang.

“We anticipate at some future time being able to increase reservation availability and/or opening without the need for reservations,” Ratliff said in an email. “However, conditions do not currently allow for this.”

Jasmine Lee is a city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @JasmineLee02.