UCSD Challenge Course opens to the public

    UCSD Recreation and Associated Students celebrated the grand opening of the UCSD Challenge Course on May 11. The course is a series of low and high towers designed to help groups strengthen team building, communication skills and self-esteem. The structure, located south of Lot 702 on East Campus, is open to all UCSD students, organizations, staff and faculty groups as well as the San Diego community.

    The idea for the project began three and a half years ago, when Brian Grube, director of Outback Affairs, and Patty Mahaffey, John Muir College dean of Student Life, teamed up and drafted the Challenge Course. UCSD had completed a survey of employers of UCSD graduates and found that graduates lacked skills in social gatherings and teamwork situations.

    “We discussed the need for students to have something on campus like this that would challenge people to come out and do some teamwork and build leadership and self-confidence,” Grube said.

    After writing up a proposal and bringing it to various student organizations, he said, it was discovered that while students were interested in the course, the university was not ready to move in that direction. Former A.S. Commissioner of Service and Enterprises Colin Parent took interest in the project and, along with Mahaffey and Grube, started a partnership between Associated Students and UCSD Recreation that helped renew interest in the course. In December 2003, Associated Students reallocated $60,000 to the construction of the project. The project finished construction in January.

    “It’s really exciting for the two departments, Associated Students and Campus Recreation, to do a joint venture like this,” Grube said. “I feel it sends a really important message to the entire campus community that staff and students and faculty want to work together to make this environment a great place for students.”

    The Challenge Course founders said this event marks one of the few times nationwide that a college’s student government and a student affairs department — in this case, UCSD Recreation — have united to build a program.

    Jeremy Cogan, former A.S. commissioner of enterprise operations, stressed that it was “important to emphasize what student impact could be on a project like the Challenge Course.”

    “We would like to use this as a model for how Associated Students would like to work with other departments in the future to offer services that may not be available right now,” Cogan said.

    There are two parts to the Challenge Course. The Alpine Tower is a 50-foot tall structure that features nets, rope ladders, poles and other devices to allow individuals or teams to get to the top. The lower course is the team development course that is designed to engage a team in a progressively difficult course.

    “It’s a terrific way for students to explore leadership development right on campus and right in their own backyard,” Cogan said.

    Cogan said that Associated Students’ portion of the profit made from this enterprise will be reinvested in the A.S. budget for items like Triton Taxi and student organizations, among others.

    So far, Residential Life staffs, sororities, fraternities and various student organizations have expressed interest in using the Challenge Course, according to Cogan. To date, over 20 organizations have booked time to use the course. Prices for using the course vary depending on the number of individuals and the length of session. For more information, call (858) 822-3558.

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