Increase in student fees requested for Recreation Center
Campus Recreation has struggled to keep up with facility and equipment maintenance, so it has appealed to the Student Fees Advisory Committee for a fee increase to help cover costs and ease its budgetary strain Tuesday in the Rotunda Meeting Room of the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.
In the presentation for SFAC, Director Kim Clark expressed her dismay at the state of facility maintenance and athletic equipment caused by several factors — including time and duration of use, design and natural aging — and told committee members that maintenance is a crucial component for sustaining the center.
“(In) the last couple years, we’ve really discovered that both our equipment as well as this facility in general had not been as well-maintained as they should have been,” Clark said. “And so the result of that, there was a long list of deferred maintenance, facility projects, as well as the need to replace capital equipment.”
As a result, Clark asked for an $8 increase in the dedicated recreation fee from the current $84 per student. This increase would provide an additional $688,000 that could fund facility and equipment maintenance as critical ongoing projects.
“Without this, we will have a very difficult time continuing to make progress toward equipment maintenance, as well as continuing to chip away at the deferred maintenance list, as well as tackling (projects) on the critical projects list.”
Some of the critical projects include a $1.5 million budget for the natatorium. Clark said the pumps need to be gutted and replaced because of design and maintenance issues, many of which stem from when it was originally constructed.
Another is almost $1.5 million for the Cullen Field Project to install lights and have an appropriate field for athletics practice.
In terms of maintenance, the Recreation Center replaced 64 pieces of fitness equipment last year for $209,348.95.
Clark said that she would like to work toward replacing almost all of the equipment in the center about every five years.
When presenting the annual budget to the committee, SFAC Chair Charles Haston, who is also the graduate at-large member of the Student Government Association, pointed to the center’s lack of substantial outside budgetary funding and support, especially in the area of facility rentals, which makes up about 1 percent of the center’s income.
He believes this could be an untapped source that could be priced to appeal to more students and alumni.
“What we don’t do well is utilizing our assets in a way that is effective,” Haston said.
“And this center is a great tool for this university to bring alumni — especially young alumni — back here because if we don’t keep them engaged on this campus, as state funding for this institution continues to decline, the only real sources we have are student tuition and alumni giving. And we don’t do a good job of addressing that.”
The annual budget for the Recreation Center is around $8.4 million, around $7.7 million of which come from both dedicated fees and student service fees. This includes spending on intramural sports, sports clubs, fitness, outdoor adventures and other activities.
For Clark, Campus Recreation is an integral part of campus and student lives. Now that they are fully staffed, she can work toward improving the center.
“We really feel like we do contribute to the quality of life, and we give students an opportunity to get involved as well as co-curricular development outside of the classroom,” Clark said.