Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 1, 2016

SWEAT SHOP Students will no longer find workout equipment when the enter the PERC. Photo by Jafet Garcia.

PERC Trades Equipment for 'Sew Pro' Sewing Machines

Zach Newcomer

When students arrive on campus next fall, they will notice a ‘sweating’ change in the Physical Education and Recreation Center (PERC). Manchester has chosen to remove all of the equipment in Brown Fitness Center and replace it with sewing machines used for the athletic departments and campus store.

The University and Campus Store will add 50 of the newest and most technologically advanced sewing machines available – the Sew Pro 2017. Each appliance comes with a touchpad screen that allows the user to create or upload an image, which will then be printed on the article of clothing. Having an easy-to-use machine will allow each worker to create more items, compared to having a manual sewing machine. The items the new sewing room will produce will be shirts, sweatshirts and other items of clothing for the campus store, and will also make apparel and jerseys for Manchester’s athletic teams.

The decision to sell the weight room equipment and use that money to purchase the Sew Pros came as a result of increased shipping costs. According to the Campus Store manager Heather Gochenaur, making the apparel on campus will bring in savings close to, if not over, $500. “The Campus Store came up with the creative idea to not only generate savings in shipping, but to also lower retail prices for students,” Gochenaur said. “As always, ‘Students First.’” Community members and parents of students will still have to purchase items at the regular retail price; a discount is only offered to current students.

Students will be able to apply for positions on Spartan Jobs, while 10 positions will be held for students who committed a campus violation and need to complete community restitution assigned from the conduct board.

Adding the sewing machines has brought alarming thoughts to Manchester students and faculty. “The Kenapocomoco Coalition is concerned that students are vulnerable to exploitation through market expansion,” said Dr. Katy Gray Brown, associate professor of philosophy and peace studies and director of the Peace Studies Institute. “Production is limited to items for Manchester teams and the Campus Store, but it won’t be long until there’s a strategic initiative to add apparel production as an institutional revenue stream.”

Many also feel the wage for the workers will be too low, compared to the other jobs on campus. Workers will need to sit behind the overheating machines in the confined quarters of the lower PERC up to six hours at a time. While the workers will be students, the job posts hazards that include getting fingers caught in the needles, fingers becoming caught while unwinding thread knots and facing exhaustion due to the overheating machines. The cost of living for a single adult in Wabash County is $9.29 an hour, while a student worker on campus will make $7.25. The dangers that occur from the job is too severe for the low wage for each worker.

“Peace studies students from Dr. Abby Fuller’s Social Movements course have taken on an advisory role for the student workers, outlining a strategy of collective noncooperation,” Gray Brown said. 

When students and faculty want to work out free of charge, they will need to either swim in the Eel River or run stairs in the Academic Center.