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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Bear Down Gym is now Bear Down building, a student resource center

Marison Bilagody
Students walking in the main entrance area in Bear Down Building on Nov. 8, on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Ariz. Bear Down Building is part of the Student Success District.

The University of Arizona’s historic gym is now a place where students can exercise their minds as well as their bodies.

In April, the University of Arizona completed an interior redesign of Bear Down Gym. The building, between the Main Library and the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library, now contains various academic support services, study rooms, a fitness and wellness center, career coaching and a small convenience store. 

Now known as Bear Down building, the redesign of the historic gym is part of the university’s new Student Success District, which also includes renovations of the main and science-engineering libraries and the new Bartlett Academic Success Center building. 

Construction of the district started in January 2019 and cost $81 million, according to the university’s website of planning, design and construction. The university hopes that the district will help increase student success and well-being on campus.

“Bear Down Gym has a plethora of student support services,” Jenny Nirh, director of Collaboration, Communications and Outreach, said. “There is tutoring and writing support, workshops through the Thrive Center, STEM and academic support and career advising.” 

It also has a student fitness center, the Red & Blue Market, study spaces, meditation rooms and a common area where students can study and eat a meal or snack. 

“It’s a good idea to have all these resources located in one area,” Magdalena Mirto, an SOS desk assistant at Bear Down, said. “There’s a lot of student support services you can reach out to if you need help.”

The Writing Center is one of the most used services at Bear Down building, according to Mirto and Nirh. 

“The Writing Center is very busy,” Nandini Sojitra, one of the Writing Center’s desk assistants, said. “We’ve been having a lot of appointments this semester; we’re booked pretty much all throughout the day.”

The Writing Center is appointment-only and students can go online to the Think Tank website to book an appointment. 

“We offer three appointment types,” Sojitra said. “In-person in the Writing Center, Zoom appointments and feedback loop.” 

Students who don’t have time for appointments can get emailed feedback from a tutor using the feedback loop on the Think Tank website.

Another popular resource is the BearDownREC on the bottom floor of the building. 

“Our gym just opened up this past spring and many students like it,”  Melina Felix, satellite facilities manager, said. 

Because it’s a facility operated by Campus Recreation, there is no cost to students, as students pay the mandatory rec fee in their tuition.

In addition to the fitness area, BearDownREC has lockers, showers and a meditation room. 

“A lot of people like having an area where they can get academic help, then go exercise right in the heart of campus,” Felix said.

The Red & Blue Market on the first floor, a College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Lounge and various classrooms complete the space.

Bear Down building is just one of the four buildings that were either renovated or built to help increase student success on campus. Nirh said that she hopes the new district will provide a lot of support to all students on campus.

“I think that students need to know that there are resources available to help them and that there is something for everybody on this campus,” Nirh said. “If anyone needs help figuring out what they need, they can come and talk to SOS to help them connect with the right resources.”

Bear Down Building is open daily, but the hours depend on the day. Students can check the Student Success District website for updated operating hours.  

 *El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.  

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