Creating a space for everyone

MizzouRec Director Stephen Byrd discusses the changes the facility is undergoing to better serve students.

Seven people standing in front of a tiger mosaic
Members of the MizzouRec team collaborated with Student Affairs marketing and communications to reimagine spaces within the student recreation facility. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Jesse Berlin

This is Part 1 of a multi-part story. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here.

MizzouRec Director Stephen Byrd and his team are determined to make the student recreation center a place where all Tigers feel welcome.

“MizzouRec provides programs and services that can contribute to each student’s well-being, and that’s what we aim to do,” Byrd said.

“We want to make sure we’re welcoming students of all identities and recreational needs,” said Sheldon Tate, associate director of programs. “This way, our programs and services will provide greater meaning to the students we serve.”

Upon assuming the job of director in April 2020, Byrd started studying who was using MizzouRec and how. He invited students and his team to give feedback on changes they would like to see.

Through a multi-phase process that began this summer, Associate Director of Facilities Carrie Steuber is managing changes, from replacing artwork to updating workout equipment to improving signage.

During the first phase of the refresh this summer, MizzouRec replaced some outdated artwork throughout the complex.

“We have updated the cardio equipment to be more accessible for students of different abilities,” Steuber said. “Weight equipment will be updated in January 2022.”

Byrd also said that accessibility is important for equity. As such, MizzouRec will continue not to charge students for group exercise classes and intramural sports. MizzouRec hasn’t charged for those since summer 2020, he said, and he has no plans to resume the practice.

“It is important for students’ mental health to have that physical outlet,” Tate said. “My team and I are excited to engage more students in group exercise and intramural sports.”

In the future, MizzouRec will start updating wayfinding signs to make it easier for students to find what they’re looking for.

When all’s done, MizzouRec will become “more of a communal space, a space that’s for everyone,” Byrd said.

“If it’s within recreation, we hope to be able to serve that need, and you can’t do that if people don’t feel welcomed here,” Byrd said.

Related stories

New look, new feel

Making change together