UBC students have been sneaking into the Student Recreation Centre (SRC) to play sports in violation of SRC rules.
After closing down for months due to the pandemic, the SRC opened again in mid-October for drop-in basketball, tennis, swimming and other sports.
To follow the provincial health guidelines, UBC Recreation has specific measures in place to ensure the drop-in activities are safe for participants. New rules require participants to register online for their one-hour session in advance, sanitize their hands and answer COVID-related questions to confirm they have no symptoms of COVID-19 when checking in.
For each drop-in session, its capacity is limited to 4 people for basketball and table tennis, and 12 people for badminton.
Basketball drop-in participants required to remain at their designated hoop, but students are not following these rules by playing games together.
“They are sharing the rim and they don’t follow social distancing [rules] at all,” said Michelle Suriawan, a UBC Recreation operations staff member.
On the badminton courts, people were also caught playing doubles, which is prohibited.
Students, with a little help from their friends inside the gymnasium, can sneak into the Student Recreation Centre to play sports.
“[They] let people in from the exit door … and when we go upstairs to do rounds and check them … there’s more than 12 people so you have to tell them to leave,” said Suriawan.
She said that students sneaking in to the gym puts staff members in a difficult position.
“I kind of understand. But at the same time, I can’t let you do that. If I let you do that, I will be the one who will be in trouble. And it’s also for the safety of everyone,” Suriawan said.
Communication and negotiation could solve most of these kinds of problems, she said.
“If I can't communicate, then [my colleague] will communicate with them. But if that person's still very persistent in going to the facility, we need to talk to our manager, and they will come and help us out ... Most of the time when we explain to them, they would usually follow it.”
Penalties are sometimes necessary for people who keep crossing the line.
“We'll give the strike to [their] account. If it keeps on happening, and they reach three strikes, then they will be suspended. And they won't be able to do the drop-in [sports] for maybe like two weeks or like a month depending on our manager,” Suriawan revealed the measures UBC Recreation had been taking to close this loophole.
Comparatively, sneaking into the Birdcoop or ARC Fitness Centres is far less common because of their setups, according to Suriawan.
Update: In line with provincial health orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person sport sessions like basketball, figure skating and hockey are cancelled until further notice.