Athletics proposes $120 fee increase

Pay-per-use system would prove unfeasible, Dal Cin says

The Department of Athletics and Recreation will go before AMS Assembly tonight and request to put a question regarding the proposed athletics and recreation fee increase to the AMS Annual General Meeting. They are proposing a $120 fee increase spaced out over several years, with an increase of $50 in 2009-10, an additional $40 increase in 2011-12 and a further $30 in 2012-13. In 2013-14 and beyond, the fee would be indexed to inflation.

Director of Athletics and Recreation Leslie Dal Cin said the size of the increase was determined after collecting information from the plebiscite questions in the AMS referendum. Seventy-two per cent of students voted in favour of increasing the Athletics and Recreation fee on winter AMS referendum, while 89 per cent of voting students said Athletics and Recreation is a valuable part of the Queen’s experience.

The referendum also asked students 15 questions about what aspects of Athletics and Recreation they value. Dal Cin said aspects that received 70 per cent or greater support were factored into the new proposed fee. Those aspects include access to cardio and weight rooms, open drop-in recreation times in the gyms and pool, extended building hours after 10 p.m. and on weekends, on-campus intramurals, student employment opportunities, maintaining the current number of club programs and maintaining the current number of varsity teams.

Dal Cin said the department has met with faculty society assemblies over the past week and heard proposed alternatives to a fee increase. She said one of the main alternatives discussed was a pay-per-use system for access to fitness facilities and interuniversity games, but she said such a system wouldn’t be feasible because the department has to decide what sports and fitness programs it will offer well in advance and needs to know how much money they have coming in.

“We need to confirm with Ontario University Athletics the sports we’ll be participating in next year in May,” she said. “Without knowing what our budget is, we’re in a position where we wouldn’t be able to confirm sports.” Dal Cin said a pay-per-use system would also interfere with the department’s scheduling of fitness programs and prevent them from hiring students in May due to budget uncertainties.

“The mandatory fee allows students to customize their programs and gives them a high degree of certainty that their programs are going to run,” she said.

Dal Cin said a pay-per-use system would also force the department to hire more security staff and introduce more checkpoints to ensure that students are only using the services that they pay for, which she doesn’t want to see.

“That flies against the whole design of the Queen’s Centre,” she said.

Dal Cin said the meetings with student groups have been valuable to explain the budgetary pressures the department is facing, such as cuts in their funding from the University.

“What we’ve spent a lot of time doing in the sessions is answering questions and providing more information, and I think students appreciate that,” she said. “People appreciate that there needs to be an increase.”

Dal Cin said if the fee increase isn’t passed, the department will have to make drastic cuts to both interuniversity sports and recreation programs.

“My big fear is that it doesn’t go forward and we need to make the decrease we need to make over the summer and people come back to a drastically different Athletics and Recreation program,” she said. “I’m pretty confident a lot of people would be disappointed with it.”

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