Athletics Review proposes hiking athletics fee to top five

Student fee is 44 per cent of Athletics and Recreation budget

If the Athletics Review’s recommendation to raise the department’s mandatory fee is adopted, students may soon have to dig deeper into their pockets to use the gym.
If the Athletics Review’s recommendation to raise the department’s mandatory fee is adopted, students may soon have to dig deeper into their pockets to use the gym.

One of the more controversial aspects of the recent review of Queen’s Athletics and Recreation was its recommendation to raise the Athletics and Recreation fee “to a level that puts them among the top five universities in Ontario.” This means the fee, which is indexed to inflation and set at $128.66 for full-time undergraduate students for 2007-08, would be raised to at least $163.84, the amount students pay to support athletics and recreation at the University of Western Ontario, which has the fifth-highest fee in the province.

Queen’s fee is currently the 10th-highest in Ontario, according to the review. York University charges $234.00 annually. Queen’s fee pays for facilities such as the workout equipment, squash and racquetball courts, swimming pool and gymnasia in the Physical Education Centre, the tennis courts located near Summerhill on main campus, the soccer and baseball fields on west campus and the tennis courts on west campus.

York’s campus recreation facilities are focused around the Tait McKenzie Centre, which has 45 cardio machines, 23 variable-weight machines, free weights, four gyms, five studios, five squash courts, and a

25-metre swimming pool. They also have nine outdoor tennis courts, five playing fields, a stadium, four softball fields and a recreational cricket pitch.

In addition to the aforementioned athletics fee, undergraduate students also pay $71.00 per year towards the construction of the Queen’s Centre. The centre will contain many facilities for athletics and recreation, such as a new arena and basketball and volleyball courts. The review proposes an increase in the athletics fee is necessary in order to make full use of the new facilities. It says, “[Students] have stepped forward with a wonderfully generous contribution to the Queen’s Centre. But fully utilizing that Centre requires programming that, in turn, requires funding.” The fee is one of the three main sources of income for Athletics and Recreation’s $4 million annual budget. The other two are contributions from the University and self-generated revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship. The fee makes up roughly 44 per cent of the budget, or $1.76 million. The university’s contribution, which goes towards facilities and maintenance but not programming, amounts to 39 per cent, and self-generated revenue makes up the other 17 per cent of the budget.

The review recommended that Athletics and Recreation develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to raise self-generated revenue, but suggested that the University keep its own contribution the same.

Athletics and Recreation Chair Leslie Dal Cin said the student fee is split among campus recreation and interuniversity sports. In campus recreation, the student fee pays for instructors, equipment renewal, facility maintenance and upgrades, weight room supervisors, lifeguards, referees, program co-ordinators, and other staff. It also covers some of the costs of using off-campus facilities for intramurals.

According to Dal Cin, instructional programs that have additional fees, such as Pilates classes, are largely self-sufficient, only spending what they earn, but some dollars are transferred from campus recreation to allow students to enroll in these programs at a discounted rate. The programs offered by VIP Fitness are an exception: they are fully funded by campus recreation dollars and do not have extra fees.

Dal Cin said the money from the fee also goes towards covering varsity sport expenses, such as league competition fees, referees, and travel expenses. She added that the money also pays a portion of coaches’ salaries and goes to hire event staff.

“[There is] some support to coaching salaries, although some comes from University dollars as well, and then event staffing is a big expense, including things like AMS constables. Then you get into marketing, and posters, and yearbooks, and the Colour Awards, our athletic awards, is a big project,” she said.

Dal Cin said roughly 60 per cent of the department’s budget goes to interuniversity sport and 40 per cent goes to campus recreation. She added that much of Athletics and Recreation’s income from such things as commercial sponsorships and ticket sales is used for varsity sports.

“A lot of the self-generated revenue goes into the varsity sports, so if we were to look at it from straight contribution per dollar [of the student fee], it’s balanced,” she said.

Dal Cin said a large portion of athletics fees actually make their way back into the pockets of students.

“We actually put about $600,000 back into student employment, so we’re one of the largest employers on campus.” Athletics and Recreation directly employs 500-550 students per year in a variety of jobs, such as officials, ticket-takers, equipment staff, timekeepers, scorekeepers, lifeguards, security staff, and concession staff. They also hire other student services, such as the StuCons for event security.

Dal Cin said it’s hard to say where the money from a fee increase would go. However, she said she would like to see a portion of it go towards student connections with athletics.

“Really, what our vision is is that we’d like to see the opportunity to grow participation. We think that there’s all sorts of things we can do, in terms of Residence Life programs for first-year folk and programs for community engagement.” Dal Cin’s ideas for new campus recreation programs include fitness sampler programs to be offered in residence, as well as wider variety of intramural sport offerings, such as kickball, international sports, and floorball.

A substantial portion of the fee would still likely go towards supporting varsity sports, particularly in the coaching area. “We have part-time coaches who are not at the university 100 per cent of the time, and then we have part-time coaches who are, who job-share with another part of the department,” Dal Cin said. “We currently have zero full-time coaches in terms of 100 per cent of their time is dealing with their sport. We need to address the coaching situation, so some dollars do need to flow to varsity [programs].”

Dal Cin said the proposed fee increase represents a chance to expand students’ recreational opportunities. “Where we think the opportunity is, especially with the Queen’s Centre, is really the opportunity to blow out Campus Recreation and really look to drive some initiatives there. With the artificial turf that’s coming on Tindall Field, that gives us another opportunity. I think everything would go up in proportion, but what we’re really looking for is more opportunities on the campus rec side.”

What the fee offers

Access to the PEC from September to April, which has gym equipment, squash courts, a swimming pool, and much more.

Access to all varsity regular season home games.

Free participation in most intramurals—extra fees may apply for intramurals held off campus, such as curling, ice hockey, or indoor soccer.

The ability to book main campus tennis courts and play on the West Campus courts.

What isn’t included:

Instructional programs, such as Pilates, yoga, and some martial arts classes: these usually have separate fees for users.

Who uses the fee you pay:

• 5,000 students in intramurals
• 3,000 students in recreational clubs
• 2,000 students who use the PEC daily
• 1,000 students who participate in interuniversity sports

Top 10 athletic fees in the OUA

1. York University, $234.00
2. Nipissing University, $210.00
3. University of Toronto, $209.82
4. University of Ottawa, $185.16
5. University of Western Ontario, $163.84
6. University of Guelph, $158.06
7. University of Waterloo, $153.42
8. Trent University, $142.99
9. Carleton University, $138.82
10. Queen’s University, $128.66

Source: Queen’s University Athletics and Recreation Review: Charting a Course of Excellence; May 2007

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