Mask compliance issue forces HHPA closure

Maddie Loverich, Editor-in-chief

Starting Wednesday morning, Linfield University’s indoor athletic facilities are closed for recreational use due to a lack of compliance with indoor mask mandates. 

Doug Hire, senior associate athletic director at Linfield, announced Tuesday that recreational use of the Health, Human Performance and Athletics (HHPA) complex will be closed until Monday, Sept. 20. 

“If we all are on board and comply [with mask requirements], it’ll make the environment much safer,” Hire said. “I have students who complain that they don’t feel safe in this environment. There’s a lot of people not wearing masks, so it’s not fair for them.”

The temporary closure was announced in an email to the entire McMinnville campus student body Tuesday evening and went into effect on Wednesday morning.

Hire said that they’ve been receiving complaints about students and staff improperly wearing masks since last week. The offenses have occurred specifically in the weight rooms, fitness rooms, meeting rooms, and lower HHPA area. The closure, however, will include the other recreational venues as well, such as the upper and lower gyms, Ad and Joan Rutschman Field House, and the Aquatic Center. 

The problem has mainly been reported during the evenings and weekends, when student workers are in charge of monitoring the facilities. 

“I know some have questioned the mental health effects of our students not being able to work out now,” Hire said. “But I also have the mental health concerns of my own workers. I had to change a student worker that was in the weight room to a different location, because it was too stressful for her. It’s hard for some monitors to remind students to wear a mask, and people don’t comply.”

In-season athletic teams will be allowed to continue using the facilities through the closure. Off-season athletic teams with reserved weight room times will also continue to have access until 5 p.m. 

“There’s no change with [team access], because they’re gonna be supervised by our coaches,” Hire said.  

Hire said that he will continue to monitor the situation closely after regular hours resume Monday. If the problems continue, a longer closure may be considered. The worst case scenario could be a cancellation of evenings and weekend hours altogether, according to Hire. 

“Listen, I get it,” he said. “It’s hard. But, these are hard times. And we can get through this if we all do it together. We all need to get on board to be good teammates indoors.”