Op-ed: Not to burst your bubble…

by Casey Diana
edited by Tyler Arago

College campuses across America are known for their extravagant recreational facilities and on-campus gyms. At Franklin Pierce, the facility is a large, white air dome that looks like a giant golf ball.

But over the week of March 13-19 when students were on Spring Break, the Northfields Activity Center, also known as the Bubble, suffered a tear during a strong winter storm.

(Photo: Google)

The Bubble previously collapsed in January 2013, and was then out of operation until October 2013. “When the Bubble collapsed that year, the effects rippled through students and athletes a like,” said 2016 FPU graduate Sarah Sheils. “We were no longer able to have team workouts, which was detrimental to us as a team in the middle of our season.”

While this time around the Bubble was spared by Mother Nature, the Hampshire Dome in Milford, NH was not as lucky. The facility suffered a full collapse, displacing local sports teams and athletic groups.

The tear in the Bubble at Franklin Pierce this spring brings up the question of whether or not it is time that Franklin Pierce invests in a permanent building to house the on-campus recreational facilities.

“I think it’s time for a real building,” said senior Shannon O’Neil. “The Bubble definitely has a novelty effect because not too many schools have one, but the idea of losing our only on-campus workout facility is one that would ruin a lot of sports teams routines.”

Doug Carty, director of Campus Recreation, said, “In my opinion, it’s a pretty cool looking and unique building that has become part of Franklin Pierce culture.”

Franklin Pierce has had the Bubble since 1995, and it’s certainly been a huge piece of the campus. “Because of the transparent nature of the skin, we can save a lot of electricity during the day by utilizing natural sunlight,” said Carty. This allows the university to save money through the natural lighting, and there’s no doubt that this is one of the biggest advantages of the Bubble.

There comes a time where the negatives outweigh the positives, and for many on the campus of Franklin Pierce, it seems as though the negatives are becoming more apparent. Temperature regulation in extreme heat or extreme cold can be difficult.

“Not many people actually use the Bubble in the summer, so the building being too hot is not a regular concern,” said Carty. However, anyone who has been in the Bubble in the early weeks of September or late weeks of April can attest to the heat concerns, and the winter athletes who spend Winter Break in the Bubble can confirm that a sweatshirt can be necessary in January.

Despite the recent tear, though, the Bubble appears to be here to stay with proper preparation and care.”Although instances are rare that the building is truly in jeopardy of damage, we have a much longer checklist of things to do in preparation for significant weather concerns,” said Carty.

Investing in a new building would be expensive: “The idea of a new recreation center is not without cost, careful planning and a significant amount of vision for the future.” said Carty.

For now, students and faculty will continue to workout and practice in the Bubble on campus, but conversations in upper-leadership need to happen in order to pursue a more stable and permanent recreation facility.


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