Athletic/recreation fee may increase
Fees at UAA, which seem to always be going up, don’t just increase without the input of students on campus. Every four years, organizations that collect a student fee are allowed to make a claim for an increase. On Friday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. the UAA Athletics Department and Recreational Sports will be presenting their testimony for increasing the athletics/recreational sports fee to USUAA.
The forum is one of the first steps in deciding if the fee should be increased. A final decision won’t be reached for some time. USUAA’s vote is only an advisory vote, but is still an important one in the decision.
“We’re going to have a very thorough process where we consider a variety of factors such as whether or not the presentation sufficiently answered our questions. We might invite them back to one of our committee meetings to give a little bit more information about what they would do with such an increase. We plan to have a very robust process and this is just the first in many steps that will enable us to adequately judge and ascertain whether or not these entities deserve a fee increase and whether or not that’s in the best interest of students,” USUAA Vice President Matthieu Ostrander said.
After the proposal for a fee increase goes through USUAA, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs will review the proposal. The final decision will then be made by the Chancellor.
Currently, the athletics fee is $9 per credit for all students who are registered for six or more credits on UAA’s main campus. The fee is then split between Recreational Sports and Athletics, $3.60 goes to Recreational Sports and $5.40 goes to Athletics. There were 1.541 million dollars collected from fees last year in total.
The Recreational Sports portion of the fee allows students to access the services at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex and the student and auxiliary gym in the Alaska Airlines Center. Students can use the pool, ice rink, weight room and auxiliary gyms all for free. Recreational Sports is also in charge of intramurals.
The athletics portion of the fee is used by the Athletics Department to allow students to go to games for free or at reduced prices, and bring friends who aren’t students for reduced prices. Keith Hackett, UAA Athletics Director, feels that athletics also brings the highest visibility to campus during the regular school year and said that Anchorage Dispatch News covered UAA Athletics around 375 times last year.
“I think we are a point of pride. There are so many good things happening on campus, so many great academic programs, but I think from a visibility stand point, we provide a front porch in because of the success that our teams have had,” Hackett said.
The fee also helps Athletics do a few other things, but most of the Athletics’ budget is from other sources of revenue. Hackett said that a little under one-tenth of their revenue comes from student fees.
Despite the fact that the revenue from the Athletic/Recreational Sports fee is such a small portion of the Athletics Department’s total revenue, Athletics is feeling hard pressed to make ends meet. According to Hackett, UAA Athletics currently breaks even with $10,532,000 in revenue and expenses. However, decreased enrollment at UAA has led to a decrease in revenue from student fees for all fee-collecting entities on campus and has raised concerns that budgets and positions will have to be cut if fees aren’t increased. Hackett said they have already had to cut some positions.
Hackett, however, isn’t looking to cut students short if an increased fee were approved, very much wanting to increase what’s offered if the fees were to be raised. He wants to increase student engagement and foster stronger UAA traditions. Hackett is already working to make things better for students with the current $9 fee.
“We’ve expanded the hours and I think that’s a pretty important thing,” Hackett said.
Hours at the Wells Fargo Sports Center for students have increased. According to Hackett, on a weekly basis, students get to use the pool 55.5 hours. The gym is open 35.5 hours per week to students. Students could only use the gym for free for 12 hours two years ago. The fitness center in the Wells Fargo is open for 180 hours to students, whereas last year, it was only open for 66.5 hours. Hackett also said that all the free weight equipment at the Wells Fargo Sports Center was purchased through the Seawolf Athletic Fund last year.
Students will have an opportunity to testify on the proposed increase for the Athletic/Recreational Sports fee Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. during the USUAA meeting in the Student Union.