Fee hike kills popular sport

Heather Bryant / Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 7, 2012

For the first time in more than ten years, broomball will not be an intramural sport at UAF. Starting this semester, the fee for the popular sport more than doubled from $7 to $25 per season. This season of broomball has been canceled because of a student backlash against the fee increase.

There are two seasons of broomball each semester. Only two teams signed up for this season. On Feb. 1, players received an email from intramurals supervisor, William Boe Edwards, notifying them of the cancellation. 

“This is the first season (there are 4 seasons a year) that there have not been enough teams signed up to play in my 10 years of Broomball,” OIT employee Adam Koegle said in an email. Koegle played broomball both as a student and as a staff member at UAF.

Edwards heard there was going to be a boycott of the sport, he said. About 25 teams usually play, with seven to eight players on a team, Edwards estimated. That means the hike in fees is keeping almost 200 students off the ice this semester.

Broomball is the most popular of the intramural sports, Edwards said.

In November, Student Services announced the change in fees, chalking up the increase to the cost of maintaining the ice, staffing the Patty Center rink and operating the Zamboni. Facilities Services raised the fees for intramural broomball and hockey because those are the only two sports played on the ice.

“The university will continue subsidizing the cost, as we have done in the past, but somewhere the difference has to be made, because the Division of Student Services does not have the cash to make up that kind of difference.” Vice Chancellor Mike Sfraga said at the ASUAF meeting on Nov. 20, 2011.

At the end of the fall semester, players and team captains pledged to boycott the sport should the fee increase happen. 

Now not only is Student Services not getting the approximately $18,000 it wanted, it’s not getting the $5,000 it would have received had it not raised the fee.

This incident is a good example of when UAF needs to stop and actually communicate to students. Yes, you can just enact fees, and we can’t stop you. But UAF still has a responsibility to inform students of its plans, even if that responsibility isn’t written in stone. to be accountable to students for that fee. Announcing that a fee is going to triple and attending one ASUAF meeting isn’t accountability and it isn’t communication.

This rush to fill a gap in the budget killed a popular tradition for students. Hopefully, arrangements can be made to save the next season. But in the meantime, perhaps Student Services should review the way it communicates with students. I understand that the money has to come from somewhere. This is the perfect opportunity for the administration to show the students that it is listening to them and understands their concerns.

Host a forum on the fee increase and have a dialogue with students. It’s not too late to save the next season.

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2 Responses

  1. Andy Cloward says:

    There is no need to hike a price for something that has been stable for ten years. This is just another attempt for the university to find justification for charging more money to the students, because the popularity of the sport drives demand for the school. So, if there is a demand the sport, it makes sense to squeeze the lemon for a little more juice. However, students are very sensitive to price changes, as they have, consistently, paid more money every semester for tuition. Every student who has ever paid for an education understands that the vibrations of every dollar-spike can be felt in his or her wallet, so I commend the students for boycotting the sport. While it is true that there is a need for zamboni services, a 7 dollar fee is has been able to sustain the costs for the past ten years. Tripling the fee is a clear example of corporate greed, as most of the zamboni services are catered to the UAF hockey team, who use the rink on a daily basis.
    Good article Heather, very informative.

  2. James Alexander says:

    Andy, the first sentence of your post is counter-intuitive. It seems to me that the longer a price has been stable (by which I presume you mean unchanged), the MORE reason there would be to raise it in order to adjust for inflation.

    However, the amount of this fee hike is grossly in excess of the rate of inflation, which was about 28% from 2001 to 2012. A mere inflation adjustment would have brought the fee up to $8.96, so you are correct that other factors must be at play.

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