Saunas to remain open after protests


Frequent patrons of the Physical Education and Instructional Facility (PEIF) may have seen posted signs in various locations that the saunas available at the facility would be closing permanently starting on Dec. 13. After increasing complaints from those who use the saunas, it was decided that they will remain open.

According to Brian Gaudreau, associate director of programming of intercollegiate athletics, the maintenance of the saunas costs over $20,000 a year and their closure was based solely on lack of funding.

Gaudreau added that although there simply wasn’t any money in the PEIF budget to fund the sauna operation, NMU officials were looking for a way. Harvey Wallace, department head of the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation department (HPER), was able to reallocate funds in order to keep the saunas open for a limited amount of time per week.

“We try to cut the least amount of amenities that we can, the sauna is just a big ticket item,” said Gaudreau.

Though the schedule for the new, limited hours has yet to be posted, the operation hours will average 45-50 a week.

This decision to close the saunas earlier in the month excited much outcry within the NMU community.

NMU secondary education student Dustin Gray started a petition and Facebook group in order to keep the PEIF from shutting down the saunas.

“Without the saunas, I feel less healthy. They are very culturally influential in the U.P. and without them, I probably would not be a PEIF member,” Gray said.

Currently, Gray’s petition has over 300 signatures in support of keeping the saunas open for all hours that the PEIF is open.

Gaudreau said that a major downfall of keeping the saunas open is that it is very easy for non-members to access and use them without supporting them financially. He stated that the PEIF building was meant to be an instructional facility, and it’s very hard to keep people from abusing the system without spending more money on labor costs.

“People don’t realize that we have been getting our budgets cut more and more but despite that, we haven’t raised prices. Not a lot of businesses can say that in this economy,” said Gaudreau.

David Rayome, finance professor was also concerned about the limited saunas.

“This is crazy, you can’t have people pay for a service that they think they’re going to get and then cut it without warning. This wouldn’t happen anywhere else,” said Rayome.

He added that while the fact that the saunas will remain open for a limited time is better than none at all, it’s important that the PEIF administration continue to strive for longer hours of operation.