Mark Margavage walks into the Student Union Building pool room after spring break and asks, “what are we missing, what’s broken?”
During his time as Pool Club president, Margavage said he has dealt with abuse of pool equipment on the regular.
“I think I’m the only club president who has to deal with theft, vandalism, stuff like that on a daily basis,” he said.
Last semester, the club lost nine sticks in the span of two weeks. And as recently as Thursday, March 14, Margavage found one of their pool sticks broken in half.
It’s a series of violations that Margavage said is having a major impact on the club and needs to be resolved.
The issues started last semester when a missing pool stick was discovered in a dorm room. Later, that pool stick disappeared for good. Then, Pool Club members started finding sticks broken in half.
Margavage, who is a senior earth and environmental science major, said he understands that sticks get worn out because a lot of people use them. But he added there are clear signs of abuse on the equipment.
“I understand if a tip breaks or something, that’s normal wear and tear,” Margavage said. “But to snap one in half, someone’s gotta be really abusive with the equipment. That seems to be a running theme because the sticks are getting so beat up.”
Unlike last year, the pool equipment is out in the open for all to use. Previously, students had to present their IDs and get the equipment from the SUB information desk. But Margavage said it made more sense to have the equipment accessible, especially when there’s no one at the desk on the weekend and this is a time students might be more inclined to play.
“There’s a lot of people that live here that do like to use it,” Margavage said. “If there’s no one at the desk, they’re kind of missing out on that. There’s not much point having empty pool tables.”
Margavage said he doesn’t know who’s behind the vandalism, but he believes it has to do with the large crowds of students that come in for the late night meal period at Rifkin Cafe, or non-students who come into the building on the weekend.
“It seems like people who are never in here all show up and they have no respect for the equipment,” Margavage said.
He said the incidents do not occur during the day because Pool Club members are often in the pool room watching out for the equipment.
“It’s not people that are there during the day because everyone who’s in the Pool Club, there’s always someone there, and they’re all trustworthy,” Margavage said. “They watch over it, they care about the equipment.”
He said he’s frustrated because he doesn’t understand how people can violate the resources like that.
“I personally would respect equipment that isn’t mine and I wouldn’t purposefully damage them,” Margavage said.
The other frustrating thing, Margavage said, has been the negative impact the vandalism has had on the club’s budget. The club had to purchase four brand new polls, two of which are already out of commission.
This strain on the budget has prevented the Pool Club from holding tournaments like they have in the past. Margavage said he’d like to hold at least one this semester, but he’s afraid of digging into funding and then not having enough to replace sticks.
Kayla Cauthon, activities assistant for Student Development, said more sticks were ordered using funding from her department. She said the pool room is under Student Development jurisdiction, so she does help with supplies.
“We’re here for the students, so we try to meet their needs as best as we can,” Cauthon said. “Obviously we’re not an unlimited supply of money, but yes, if students have concerns or needs we try to at least accommodate them as best as possible.”
Cauthon said they are considering a half and half solution, where some of the equipment is in the open and some is protected behind the desk to ensure “a little more accountability.” She said getting a Public Safety officer to help guard the room — something that Margavage suggested — would be more difficult because of the logistics.
“As far as getting extra security or anything like that, it’s a little harder because then we’d have to staff and fund personnel specifically for that,” Cauthon said. “But we’ve talked about it and we are trying to have a little bit more policy implementation when it comes to making sure students have things to use but also we’re going to keep an eye on things a little better.”
Margavage said he hopes they can find some solution to protect what’s left of the resources in the pool room.
“We just got brand new tables,” Margavage said. “We just got brand new equipment. It would be nice if we could keep the sticks that we have.”