Student athletic fee approved
Upon Governing Council's assent, staff at the new Varsity Centre will have the flexibility to prioritize student use of the facility and the opportunity to expand intramural athletics, thanks to approval of an increased athletic fee for students on the St. George campus.
The fee was recommended by the Council on Student Services (COSS), the body which advises Governing Council on non-academic student fees. University Affairs Board concurred at its March 25 meeting and approved the athletics and recreation operating plans and fees.
The renovated Varsity Centre opened in 2006. The increased fee was initially approved on a one-year basis for 2007-08 to contribute to operating costs for the field and the winter dome. The fee will now become part of each student's overall student athletic fee on a permanent basis.
The fee -- an additional $9 per full-time student per term -- will allow student groups to have top priority, increase the number of intramural teams and drastically reduce waiting time for creation of new teams. The fee also ensures that the ratio of student use vs. outside rentals remains at 75 per cent to 25 per cent and that U of T students receive the most and best time slots throughout the year, particularly in the winter months when the dome is filled with intramural and open recreation participants.
The fee was the subject of some controversy among student organizations, with some outspoken in support and others equally vocal in opposition. The University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU), for example, conducted a plebiscite from March 4 to 6. Fifty-six per cent of voters were in favour of paying the additional $9 per term. The Graduate Students' Union opposes all fee increases, so its executive opposed the increase. However, the final vote by representatives from these groups and others at the Council of Student Services was 12 to 4 in favour of the fee and University Affairs Board also gave it a nod.
"I'm very relieved," said fourth-year student Cory Kennedy, co-chair of the Council of Athletics and Recreation, who worked hard to garner support for the fee. "I'm glad of what it creates for everyone. I go there daily and it's packed all night with intramural students."
Professor Bruce Kidd, dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, echoed those sentiments.
"It's a tremendous relief," he said. "Now, all of us can plan and program for this exciting new facility on an ongoing basis, not a temporary basis. Despite all the challenges, it is a tremendous vote of confidence in what we do."