The Fine Print: Rec fee hike to pay student salaries

By Carlos Mayorga

U officials said a hike in the campus recreation fee is necessary to pay salary increases to student employees because the federal minimum wage increased last year for the first time in 10 years and is scheduled to increase twice more in the next two years.

Starting this Fall Semester, every student will be required to pay a campus recreation fee of $16.06 per semester — a $2 jump from the current rate.

Officials at Campus Recreation Services, which includes the Field House, the HPER complex and the U golf course, requested a fee increase to be able to maintain the same staff levels and pay the increased salaries.

The federal minimum wage increased last year for the first time since 1997 from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour. In July 2008 it will jump again to $6.55 per hour, and in July 2009 it will go up once more to $7.25 per hour.

Mary Bohlig, director of Campus Recreation Services, said that without the fee increase, campus recreation would have to cut back on staff and close its facilities earlier. Rather than the current closing time of 10 p.m., the Field House would have to close at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., she said.

“We think we play a vital role in providing services across campus,” Bohlig said. “It is an extra $2, but it is going directly back to the students.”

The Field House employs around 40 students.

Cheri Jenkins, associate director of Campus Recreation Services, said that cutting student staff and the services would not be a good option.

“I’m pretty bare-boned as far as employees,” Jenkins said. “I’m sure there are ways we could cut corners, like close the building earlier, but students wouldn’t like that.”

Jenkins said that some students complain the Field House is not open long enough at the facility’s current hours and that having to close earlier would not be in the best interest of the students.

Daniel Freed, a sophomore in behavioral science and health, uses the Field House about four times a week and said that he was impressed to see the new television sets that were recently installed throughout the building.

“I think it’s fine if they continue to improve the facility, but I wish it would go towards getting better equipment instead,” Freed said.

Erik Spencer, a freshman in business administration, said that although he doesn’t use the Field House regularly, he has no problem with a $2 increase as long as it does not keep going up. Regardless, most students do not pay attention to fees, he said.

“I don’t think that most people notice,” Spencer said. “If you asked me how much in fees I paid this semester, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.”

[email protected]