Review sparks concern

Senate meeting on athletic review raises questions of fees, cuts

Queen’s community members voiced concerns with the University’s Athletics Review at Oct.18’s Senate meeting.

Julia Mitchell, AMS vice-president (University Affairs) and an instructor in Queen’s Athletics VIP Fitness programs offered by Queen’s Athletics, said she was upset by an increase in the fees students pay for instructional programs. The report recommended a study looking at charging fees for instructional programs.

“There was an increase by $100 in the VIP student fee,” she said. “What I read in the report was implemented before the consultation finished.”

Students can take cardio classes offered through VIP without paying an extra fee. Those interested in taking other fitness classes can do so by paying $100 per term for an activity pass, which allows them to participate in any of the 22 specialty classes offered weekly.

Mitchell told the Journal the majority of the specialty classes used to be offered under different names and without an additional fee through the VIP program.

“What they’ve done is separate out all of the specialty classes and made them into a pass,” she said.

Chair of Athletics and Recreation Leslie Dal Cin said the extra fee for the activity pass wasn’t related to the review’s recommendation, but to Athletics and Recreation taking over instructional programs previously offered through the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. The review recommended that the instructional programs unit be transferred from the school to Athletics and Recreation.

“It is important to note that the changes in the way in which we are now offer fitness is very much an operational matter and relates directly to loss of facilities, responding to new fitness trends, building participation opportunities and the sustainability of current programs and services,” she told the Journal in an e-mail. “The changes we have made are really day-to-day business operations which are not really a component or result of the review.”

Dal Cin said more money was needed because more students are enrolling in the programs.

“The real issue is the overall number of people participating has increased,” she told Senate last week. “We expected to see a decrease [in participating students] with the loss of Jock Harty Arena and Tindall Field. What we’re seeing instead is a numbers increase.” At the meeting, AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Alexi White asked Principal Karen Hitchcock about the relation between raising the athletics fee and enjoying increased athletics success.

“The question is whether or not schools with higher fees actually do better,” he said.

According to the review, the three schools with the highest athletic fees in Ontario are York University, Nipissing University and the University of Toronto. U of T recently extended their record-breaking football slump to 49 straight losses. The record was previously held by the York Lions.

Hitchcock said the review wasn’t only concerned with creating winning teams.

“It’s not just to get winning teams, but to have a wide range of opportunities open to our students,” she said.

Senator and sociology professor Vince Mosco said he was concerned by the review’s recommendation to offer student-athletes early pre-registration.

“[It] strikes me as establishing privileged position for student-athletes,” he said. “I am concerned about why it is that athletes merit priority, for example in registration, when students who need to carry on part-time jobs for tuition don’t get the opportunity.”

Hitchcock said it’s critical to consider the current model’s effectiveness.

“Can we, in funding 34 teams, have the kind of investment that makes our teams competitive?”

Submissions to the principal can be e-mailed to khitchcock@queensu.ca. They are due Nov. 16.

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