New look, new feel

Student input leads to refreshed visuals throughout MizzouRec.

A student stretches her arms.
The new artwork is intended to inspire MizzouRec members to be active. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Jesse Berlin

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

Changes are underway within MizzouRec to refresh the look of the main recreation facility and make it a place where more students want to work out and unwind.

“We’re a gym, not a museum,” MizzouRec Director Stephen Byrd said. “Our main job is to inspire people so they can enjoy all the benefits of physical activity.”

Based on feedback from students, images throughout the complex are being updated. Wayfinding signage and access to fitness equipment will also be improved. The work process is expected to last until January 2023.

A student practices boxing
Students wanted photographs that give the space a more contemporary feel. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

Among the students who provided feedback was Laith Almashharawi, former president of the Muslim Students’ Organization (MSO).

MSO uses MizzouRec frequently, Almashharawi said, hosting family fun nights and basketball tournaments. “It’s a social place for us, where we like to invite students to come and just hang out,” he said.

When Almashharawi toured the facility last fall, he and other participants noticed that the images displayed throughout the facility were predominantly historic photos of Mizzou athletics.

“The students told us they wanted more color photographs, that they didn’t connect with the old, sepia-toned images,” Byrd said. “Most of them were from 1900-20, and the rest were made to look like they were.”

Among the recent changes, some images have been replaced with motivational quotes. A photograph of the exterior of the building has been replaced with a large Tiger mosaic.

Two students, one in a wheelchair, lift weights
The new artwork provides better representation of today’s student body. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

Representation mattered to the students as well.

“You’ll probably be more comfortable if you see pictures that you identify with or people that you relate to,” Almashharawi said. “I personally feel way more comfortable whenever I see that a place is very focused on making sure everybody’s represented.”

Missouri Students Association President Landon Brickey also saw the benefit of more representational images. Students may think, “‘If I belong on the walls, I belong in here,’” he said.

When people are more comfortable coming to MizzouRec, Almashharawi said, they can lead healthier lives, socialize with others and “be more successful students and people.”

“It’s just a big chain reaction,” he said. “And I think it starts with making people feel welcome.”

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