Romney Gym slated for renovation

The gym space on the fourth floor is widely used, including for Tiquando practice.

Hundreds of students pass by Romney Gym every day, but few actually use the historic building. However, the Romney Renaissance Project hopes to restore the gym located near the center of campus.

The “task force,” as ASMSU Vice President and project member Lindsay Murdock described it, is currently discussing plans for the restoration.

“I would personally like to see something similar to what Missoula has in their University Center; a space dedicated to student clubs for storage and offices,” she said. “Space like that is critical and our student clubs don’t have enough of it.”

The narrow hallways are a constant item of frustration.

According to Murdock, one of the big ideas of the Renaissance Project is to make Romney Gym a place for “student transformation,” as opposed to the SUB, which is a place for “student transaction.” Nothing is concrete, but a tutoring center and a “center for faculty excellence” are both high priorities for the renovation.

As the project’s long-range plan states, the renovation would establish a new “Commons Center” and “Digital Learning Center” to facilitate a “collaboration and partnership between ITC and library services,” in addition to housing other programs that would serve to support students.

The project also aims to preserve the structure and architecture of the building, due to its importance in MSU history and its aesthetic qualities.

Romney Gym was originally built in 1922 to house MSU’s health and physical education programs. The third floor served as the home court for the “Golden Bobcat” basketball team until 1929.

The gym is no longer home to Bobcat sports. While the building currently houses ROTC and physical education courses, it mostly serves as a large storage facility.

Renovations cannot take place until the 2013 Montana Legislature allocates money for the project. The Romney Gym is number four on the list of university building projects and is expected to cost $20 million, meaning if the state Legislature votes to allocate the minimum amount of funds to higher education building projects, Romney’s renovation will have to wait a few more years.

President Cruzado, the vice presidents and deans of MSU, student members of the Renaissance Project team, and current legislators and legislative candidates recently toured the Romney Gym. The purpose was to show legislators the importance of the remodel for student life at MSU.

If students want to see this renovation happen, Murdock explained, they should focus on voting for candidates based on their views on higher education spending and budgets.

“There are so many reasons for students to be voting in this election, and this is just one small example,” Murdock said.