Campus News

Students now have free access to KROC Center

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Students, staff, and faculty at Bethel will have free access to the Kroc Community Center from Nov. 1, 2013 until Feb. 1, 2014. Depending on student response, the access will be extended, but it will have little-to-no effect on student tuition. So how can Bethel pay for this? The Kroc center website ( says that a yearly membership for young adults ages 18-24 costs $385. Multiplied by the combined number of students, along with faculty and staff, that cost could become staggering. DSC_0134“We’re not paying those rates,” said Bethel College President Dr. Gregg Chenoweth. “We have a very cheap group rate just for this test period.” Depending on if students use the center, costs could go up slightly, but not by much, says Chenoweth. “We’ll code students ID card so their system will track if it’s a Bethel person,” said Chenoweth. “That will be our way to know if people actually use it.” In Chenoweth’s eyes, this is a great thing for students, and helps save costs by using what we already have in the community—something he is very passionate about. “We can either spend a few years building a $40 million (recreational center) for students, or we can give them access to the KROC center just 15 minutes away,” said Chenoweth. “The track team practices at the track just across the street … I’m not sure if we need to build our own track because we have that resource right there.” There is concern, though, about whether students will actually use, or be able to use, this new resource, especially when it comes to getting transportation. “My main concern is whether or not students will have rides,” said Chenoweth. “I checked in with the bussing company (Transpo), and it doesn’t look like … we would have enough volume for them to have a stop right here.” “We’re going to start with trying to organize carpools …we’ll have to learn off of that and see how it goes.” Chenoweth himself was instrumental in making this partnership happen. “I had a meeting with a judge in South Bend, and it was basically social,” said Chenoweth. “While we were talking, he asked me if I knew about the KROC center and I didn’t.” “He said ‘well, you can’t be here without knowing about the KROC center.’” Chenoweth was then set up on a meeting with Major Bob Webster of the Salvation Army, Senior Kroc Center officer. “I learned about what it was and how they operate, and it just clicked for me,” said Chenoweth,. “Students should have a hot tub, they should have a pool, a climbing wall, all of these things.” According to the Kroc Center official website, the Center was founded when Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, “had a clear vision in mind: build state-of-the-art recreational and arts facilities in underserved communities throughout the nation to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to grow their natural gifts and talents.” “In 2003, Mrs. Kroc passed away, and entrusted to The Salvation Army the largest gift ever given to a private charity for the express purpose of building and endowing Kroc Centers.” The Kroc Center in South Bend is a $64.2 million investment in the community set on 12 acres near the downtown center of South Bend. The Center is comprised of five major components: a center of worship and performance venue, an aquatics center, fitness and recreation center, fine arts, music and education, and special event facilities. The Kroc endowment pays for 25 percent of the cost of the center, while the remaining 75 percent is made up by memberships. “They need to sell memberships, so it’s good for them and it’s good for us,” said Chenoweth. “I can guarantee you even if we could raise enough money to build our own (recreational center), the cost to operate your own facility would significantly affect student fees. “This is a beautiful thing for us.” The Kroc center is located at the southwest corner of Chapin Street and Western Avenue in South Bend.  
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