Fee changes on the horizon
A reduction in student fees could result from a recent proposal from ASUAF President Colby Freel. Freel is hoping to send his initiative, which would re-implement the Student Recreation Center fee at a lower rate and increase the ASUAF fee, to a student body vote this semester.
Freel and other governance leaders are working on the initiative, he said. According to an earlier draft of proposal, the student government fee would increase from the current $42 to approximately $60 per semester and the SRC fee would drop from the current $75 to around $35 per semester. The increased student government fee would increase funding for UAF’s governance groups, including the Sun Star, KSUA and the Concert Board.
These are not concrete numbers but more a starting point for further discussion, Freel said.
“We would increase the ASUAF fee by a certain amount, decrease the SRC fee by a certain amount and it would be a total net reduction in fees to students,” Freel said.
The current SRC fee applies only to students taking nine or more credits on the UAF campus. This does not include online credits or CTC classes.
This revenue adds up to about $600,000 a year, according to the student government.
The UAF Student Recreation Center was constructed using bonds taken out by ASUAF in 1994. These bonds will be paid off and the fee will phase out at the end of the 2017-18 academic year, Freel said
“Once the bond is paid off and the fee sunsets, technically it would just go away, but the university would want to start a new fee to continue with repairs and maintenance,” Freel said. “We’re not paying off the bond anymore and that’s the majority of where the money goes, so we’d want to reduce the SRC fee substantially.”
The SRC began as a student project and Freel would like to maintain a student connection.
“I think students should own up to their responsibility and make sure we keep funding it,” Free said. “If the fee does go away, the university’s just going to start a new fee and it’s not going to be student controlled. And we want a fee that’s student controlled.”
Mark Oldmixon, director of the Department of Recreation, Adventure and Wellness, has other ideas for a reinstated fee.
“The SRC fee was put in place for the SRC building when it was built in 1994 and DRAW didn’t exist until 2012,” Oldmixon said.
DRAW now includes Outdoor Adventures, Patty ice rink, the pool and the outdoor climbing tower, he said.
“I’d like to see the fee continue at the same rate, $75, for the purpose of continued maintenance,” Oldmixon said. “We have some huge maintenance projects that need to happen.”
These would include court and track replacement in the SRC, both of which are long past their lifetime, Oldmixon pointed out, as well as improved locker rooms in the SRC, Patty ice rink and pool and lumber replacement on the outdoor climbing tower.
“I’d like to continue the fee along as a more inclusive DRAW fee in order to improve all those programs,” Oldmixon said.
Oldmixon would prefer a more permanent fee encompassing all of DRAW. This revenue would be put toward programming, maintenance, lowering of Outdoor Adventures trip costs and potential facility expansion.
“The SRC was built in the early 90s really with a vision for what the campus was in the 80s,” Oldmixon said. “It was build on a shoestring budget and the students got a great product out of that and its been a tremendous asset to the community but it’s maxed out.”
In Oldmixon’s five year vision, he sees the completion of short term projects, working towards the longer term goal of creating a facility to meet it’s increased use.
“Lowering the fee would hold us up from better serving the students and it would prevent growth,” Oldmixon said.
Student opinion leaned heavily toward paying less in fees overall.
“Lowing the fees overall sounds better,” Cayra Degiulio, a senior pursuing a degree in Japanese studies, said. “The SRC facility seems well suited for its current use and I would like to see more variety in student government.”
While ASUAF seemed to have the students’ support, some wanted more information on how the added funding would be used by student government.
“I think more funding to the student government would be a better option,” Grace Bieber, a sophomore studying foreign languages, said. “But I’d like to see a breakdown of ASUAF projects the funding will help.”
Lindsey Dorn, a masters student, agreed with Beiber.
“I feel like I’d like to know more about the allocation of the funding,” she said.
The new fee set up will be on the ballot for student to vote on once exact figures have been reached.