Is there any chance the Cornell gym’s paid membership plan may change to be less cost-prohibitive?

Date: January 2023


Dear Deans,

I am grateful that mental health is something Cornell spends a lot of time and resources emphasizing; I know a lot of graduate students, including myself, take advantage of CAPS. Since regular physical exercise is one of the first recommendations made to improve mental health, it doesn’t seem to make sense that Cornell’s gyms require a paid membership. It seems like we’d be wanting to make that opportunity more available to students, especially during the winter months.

I’m aware that there are some free options, and have used them some. I also am aware that if you go to the gym enough times the cost can be compensated by insurance. My current plan is to take advantage of these opportunities but my question is: Is there any chance the policy may change to be less cost-prohibitive?


Grateful but un-fit graduate student


Dear Grateful but un-fit graduate student,

Thank you for sending in your question. I fully agree with you about the importance of exercise/physical activity when it comes to mental health.

I went to our fitness center director, Bert Adams-Kucik, to share your concern about the $100 fee per semester and inquire about methods to support the membership cost. Bert shared that the fitness centers are conscious of some students’ difficulty in paying these fees and noted the following information on their website. Here are some options available to keep the cost low:

I also reached out to Julie Edwards, the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives director, to inquire about the possibility of making the fitness center cost more accessible (or free) for graduate students. A campus-wide Student Well-being Council reviews Mental Health Review recommendations to determine recommended policy changes that can and should be made. More information about the Council is available on the Mental Health website. The policies/procedures committee has just been formed; Julie will ensure that this group considers your request. Also, if you would like more information about the Mental Health Review or a better understanding of our current structure to support mental health, please feel free to connect with Julie directly at

I hope that provides you with some new information and confidence that there is a commitment that our campus partners are also interested in supporting graduate students’ mental health through exercise/physical activity. And I am always happy to talk with you about this one-on-one; let me know if that is helpful.



Janna Lamey
Senior Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life