Confusion abounds over field policies

Spinnaker

A sign that reads, “No admittance on fields at any time,” sits on the wide side of the fence. A gate remains wide-open 24/7 on the other side.

UNF has several different facilities to accommodate its many varsity, intramural and recreational sports. However, intramural student-athletes must leave campus to practice and play the spot of their choice due to the availability of UNF’s facilities.

UNF provides three recreational fields, three and a half basketball courts, miles of trails and track, and many athletic programs and classes of its students to enjoy.

Yet, until Oct. 12 students have access to only one recreational field, while they must give a formal request to the recreational department for access to the other two.

This forces students to find other places on campus to play on, such as public fields and athletic fields. The athletics department has two fields: Hodges Stadium and the practice soccer field.

Students compete with campus activities and clubs for use of the only two public fields on campus: the Green and the Amphitheater.

Some of these fields are gated and locked while others are easily accessible, but possess signs that read, “Fields closed at all times.”

“I don’t think that many people know that you can request fields or what fields they can r cannot use,” UNF junior music education major Nick Winslow, who plays intramural football, said. “We’ve had to jump the fence [at the North Field] to use the fields because we didn’t know where to play.”

Students who decide to look for places off campus will have just as hard of time as on campus, UNF Director of Campus Recreation Becky Purser said.

The city and the county manage most off-campus fields just as strictly as UNF’s fields. Students have few choices when it comes to venues in which they don’t have to pay, so they recreation department tries to work out a place for them to place on campus, Purser said.

“UNF does not have enough recreational space to accommodate the students that need it,” Purser said.

UNF and the recreations department currently try to build a new, million-dollar three-field complex that compares to the current north field. But project is still in the works, Purser said.

The lack of space also creates the misuse of fields controlled by other parts of the university. UPD receives several calls a month from UNF Athletics’ employees reporting students who use athletic facilities without authorization.

“We routinely check all of the fields on campus, but usually a majority of the people we have to talk to are on request of the athletics department,” Assistant Police Chief Mark Richardson said.

Because the availability of the fields often changes, undergoes maintenance or another group uses or preps for scheduled events, the fields’ policies become confusing, Richardson said.

“We make all mistakes sometimes,” Richardson said. “We just follow the instructions from the organizations in charge of the various fields until they tell us differently. It would be nice if there was some way through student update or another way to let students know what the current policies are.”

The process of clarifying field policies and availabilities continues within the recreations department. During an Oct. 2 interview, Purser said she planned on making the information available online and contacted UPD Sept. 30 to clarify with them the current status of the fields.

UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon believes problems will still occur, regardless of the different fields’ policies’ publicity. The athletics department tried to clarify that the number of people removed from the practice soccer fields remains stagnant as students use the field upon reservation, Moon said

“That field is not meant for the day-to-day usage that it receives,” Moon said. “The students that play out there are tearing the field apart because they don’t know when we are seeding in or trying to do repairs.”

Moon decided in late September that the athletics department will no longer persistently try to remove students from the practice field. Should policy enforcement continue, so would student frustration, restricting field use, Moon said.

“The bigger issue is we need more recreation fields for students to play on, so that we can have fields designated for athletic use and there can be fields strictly set aside for student use,” Moon said.

Both groups continue to work toward improving the availability for students for the public and recreation fields.

“The Amphitheater’s policies could change at any time in the future,” Student Union Director Justin Camputaro said.  “Whenever something is being abused or taken advantage of changes need to be made.”

Purser said the recreations department plans to continue accommodating students as possible until more fields become available.

“We’re working our best to make everyone happy, but we need more fields now,” Purser said.

FIELDS GUIDE

RECREATION FIELDS

 

South (Crossings) Field – The South Field is currently off-limits until Oct. 12 due to field improvements and the replacement of sod. When open, the field is available for scheduled use by UNF clubs and intramural teams through UNF Intramural Director Justin Cato. When the field is not being used by a pre-scheduled event, students are allowed to use it for recreational usage.

North Field – The North Field is available by reservation only and is predominantly reserved for intramural games and practices. All scheduling for the field must go through UNF Intramural Director Justin Cato.

Old Softball Field – This is the field behind the women’s fast-pitch field. It used to be an old softball field but is not used often. The field is open for use for recreational purposes at any time for students. However, the field is available on a first come, first serve basis only and is not open to reservations.  The recreations department hopes to re-grass the field in the future to make it a more useful multipurpose area.

ATHLETIC FIELDS

 

Hodges Stadium — Any events must be scheduled around athletic events. Normally only available for use by club sports such as rugby or lacrosse. Available for field use only, not stadium.

Schocker Field (Practice Soccer Field) – Until recently the track is always open to students, and the field was available only by reservation through the recreational department. However, UNF Athletic Director recently decided to change the policy so that students can use the field at any time for recreational usage, as long as it does not conflict with Athletic Department events.

PUBLIC FIELDS

The Amphitheater – The Amphitheater is currently open to students for any usage that follows all UNF policies found in the student handbook.  Students can use the facility for activity at anytime that does not conflict with an existing event.

The Green – The Green follows the same policies as the Amphitheater and is a public place of forum for student usage that follows all UNF policies found in the student handbook. Students can use the facility for activity at anytime that does not conflict with an existing event.