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A publication of the University of Oklahoma Foundation
The Big Idea

Q. OU's student government wanted to positively impact the health of students. But how?

A. By making needed improvements at Sarkeys Fitness Center

While many University of Oklahoma students were spending a leisurely winter break with family and friends, staff and crew at Sarkeys Fitness Center were working overtime to fulfill a promise made by OU’s Student Government Association in 2018. Improving infrastructure and amenities at the university fitness center was a major initiative of the SGA and a campaign goal of 2018-19 SGA President Adran Gibbs and Vice President Prince Ohene-Nyako.

“Students had the foresight to realize that building good health habits now—while you’re in college—will make you a healthier graduate and set in motion good habits for the rest of your life,” says Amy Davenport, director of Fitness and Recreation.

In addition to flooring, the SGA purchased new equipment for the free-weight room. The equipment and floor plan create a more efficient workout space and can accommodate more students. The machine room also was renovated, improving looks and making the area more open and easier to navigate. Lynette Lobban

“When the SGA decided to fund this project, some of the members—including Adran—knew  they would graduate before they could enjoy the benefits themselves, but he and the SGA took the opportunity to make these improvements and give more students the ability to enjoy the facility.” 

After input gathered from an exit poll at the gym and other student polls, the OU SGA contributed nearly $500,000 to replace floors in the downstairs free-weight and machine rooms, provide new equipment, and redesign the weight room for more efficient use of space. The second half of the renovations include repurposing a squash court for functional fitness and adding a mural to the entryway. 

Funds came from the student activity fee, which supports student organizations and services, counseling and testing, student media, career services, campus facilities and transportation services.

Two percent of the student activity fee goes into a reserve fund, which can be used for major capital expenditures such as the Sarkeys renovations. 

“One of my things is that all students who come to Sarkeys Fitness Center are athletes. This is their athletic department,” says Davenport. “We want to provide the best facility possible. Not everybody can play for the football team, but everyone who comes here and works hard should feel like a champion.” 

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