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Drew Hall Receives New Fitness Equipment from Alumni Donation 

(From left to right) Charles Sutton III ‘26, Deborah Sutton ‘87, and Dr. Charles Sutton Jr. ‘78 standing next to some of the new fitness equipment. Photo Courtesy of Kenyatta Hobson.

New fitness equipment has been installed on the ground floor of Drew Hall, courtesy of a donation from two Howard alums. The gifts will establish the residence’s first fitness center after years of being one of two on-campus dorms without one. 

Deborah and Charles Sutton, ‘87 and ‘78 graduates respectively, donated barbells, dumbbells, and large pieces of Universal equipment, including a curl and cage system. According to the Suttons, the investment was around $25,000, and decorations such as Howard paraphernalia will be arriving soon to make the space seem homier. 

For years in Drew Hall there has been a gym room, but no equipment. The Suttons made the donation after noticing that there were few local places where their son Charles III ‘26 and his friends could consistently exercise. Before the installation of the fitness equipment, Drew Hall was one of the last residences on campus without a fitness center, along with Cook Hall, which does not currently have one.

“My son has always worked out. He played soccer in middle and high school, and his weight training has always been a substantial part of his routine,” Sutton said. “When he arrived in Howard in August, he had to go off campus to exercise, which didn’t seem ideal for a freshman.”

Many residents of Drew Hall also echoed the need for exercise equipment. 

Drew Hall’s new fitness center is on the ground floor. Photo Courtesy of Isaiah Etienne.

Drew Hall sophomore RA Amir Ince said, “Residents often made the long trek down the road to make use of the gym at the Edgewood Recreation Center. I even know residents who go all the way to Planet Fitness in Chinatown to get their workout in.” For reference, Edgewood Recreation Center is a 23-minute walk from Drew Hall, and Planet Fitness in Chinatown is a 41-minute walk, according to Google Maps. 

“My husband and I had an idea to put gym equipment in Drew once we learned that other dorms have fitness rooms,” Sutton said. The Suttons contacted Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Evers to ask if they could donate equipment.  

The Hilltop reached out to Evers for comment but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

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An idea that started as concern for Charles and his friends eventually transformed into something that the Suttons wanted to benefit the whole Drew Hall community. 

Dr. Charles Sutton Jr. (left) and Charles Sutton III (right) are next to new fitness equipment. Photo Courtesy of Isaiah Etienne.

“When we started this project,” Sutton said, “we didn’t have a dollar figure in mind, we just wanted what was appropriate for the students. We believe that working out as adults is a huge stress reliever. It really helps mental health as well.” 

The Suttons hope this project will not only provide students with a resource to reach their health and fitness goals but will also provide students with a level of accessibility not previously available to them.

“We wanted the men of Drew to have equipment conveniently in their own dorm so that students who want to exercise in the mornings or after classes can do so,” Sutton said.

The donation has led to a positive response from Drew Hall residents. 

Charles Sutton III, a freshman finance major, said “I have heard people complaining about the lack of equipment in Drew Hall, which is part of the reason my parents donated the equipment. I was really thrilled to hear the news that I would finally have a gym in my own dorm.” 

Other Drew Hall residents appreciate the fact that the Howard alumni made a donation to their dorm directly. “After the equipment was installed, so many [students] were so appreciative, ” Sutton said. “They expressed that Howard receives quite a bit in donations and scholarships, but to see something that was so tangible to them, something that will affect their everyday life, was different.” 

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Dylan Thomas, a sophomore resident of Drew Hall said, “I had heard of the administration’s desire for a fitness center in the residence hall for quite some time, but I think the Sutton’s generous donation was necessary to remind the campus of the power and love its alumni carry.”

The gym is now open for all Drew Hall residents to use. 

Copy edited by Alana Matthew


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