By John Leung
Students could be charged more for using Campus Recreation facilities and for paying for the university’s athletes next year, if two levy increases proposed by Dinos Athletics and Campus Recreation are approved.
“The bottom line is the costs do go up as it relates to salaries and core operations, i.e. travel to competitions, equipment and things like that,” stated Don Wilson, Director of Dinos Athletics. “As such, without additional revenue, drastic decisions will have to be made if addition of funds are not found.”
The Students’ Union, while in the midst of a tuition battle with administration, is not keen on any increase in fees for students be it tuition or otherwise.
“Fundamentally, the SU is opposed to fee increases in general,” stated SU President Bryan West. “The SU is trying to reduce its fees and levies, so we’re trying to reduce our levies as part of our strategic long term plan, and to see these levy increases is counterproductive to our cause.”
With the budget cuts proposed by the university and the current deficit in their general operating budget, the absence of a levy increase would mean stretching their resources even further. Presently, 74 percent of the budget is raised through student fees and other revenue streams. While Wilson admits that Dinos Athletics is not a core function of the university, he still believes that it is a benefit to students, who get into Dinos games for free with ID cards.
As for Campus Rec, which receives no income from university administration and relies solely on outside memberships and student fees, the effects of a long hiatus from fee increases has stretched their resources and capital to the limit.
“The priority of the fee increase is to maintain the standard of recreation spaces here on campus,” said Mark Eckart, Director of Campus Recreation, “As well as looking at opportunities at enhancements by adding new pieces of equipment and renovating existing spaces.”
With an increase to their levy, Campus Rec can complete planned renovations of existing space, renew their capital equipment such as fitness equipment and replace the Fitness Centre floor that has not been replaced since opening day in 1987. Eckart assures that future levy rises would only cover inflation figures. Even with an increase, according to Campus Rec research, the amount that U of C students pay and what they receive are more numerous than what students at other institutions pay and get.
While concrete amounts for the fee increases are still being debated through their respective committees, the SU is opposing these new levy increases.
“It is a good program, and it adds value to the campus community,” said West, “but to ask students to pay an additional [fee], they should have to justify their rationale through a referendum.”
Wilson has stated that a referendum would not be necessary, as students have a chance to voice their concerns via the Dinos Athletics Committee, which Wilson said the SU rejected after agreeing to it in 2000.
While it is unfortunate that both Dinos Athletics and Campus Recreation had to propose a levy to students at the same time, Wilson feels it is a necessary evil that is unavoidable in the current university budget structure.