As a member of your student government, I have very few things to brag about. Sure we won campus a 24-hour library, but that was more than a decade ago. The bus pass? Fees continue to skyrocket. One thing I am proud of took place last year, when Student Services Finance Committee granted Recreational Sports $100,000 to create a new Master Plan. I’m sure that by now, most of you have grown sick of hearing why you should or shouldn’t vote for the Master Plan. I promise it’s almost over. That being said, I hope to show you why someone whose job is to lower segregated fees is in favor of this gradual increase.
Last year, 83 percent of students used the recreational facilities on campus. Associated Students of Madison could hold a town hall meeting handing out gold bricks and we wouldn’t get 83 percent of campus to show up. If elections simply polled the student body, those 83 percent of students would have their voices heard. Sadly, campus votes are more about political tactics than student representation. If you think the referendum is going to pass easily, you are wrong. If you need verification, look back to a few years ago when the Teaching Assistants’ Association single-handedly killed NatUP.
The new Master Plan, after nearly a year of collaboration between students and Rec Sports, will cost approximately $223 million. Of that $223 million, more than $97 million has already been secured from alternative sources. That leaves a maximum increase of $108 per student, which is likely to go down as further private funding is secured, and still leaves us below the Big Ten average for recreational facilities.
Unlike the Memorial Union Reinvestment project or NatUP, Rec Sports solicited student input and applied it to the Master Plan. We asked for Rec Sports to find 40 percent of the funding and keep our segregated fee levy below the Big Ten average. They already have raised 43 percent of the cost, and they continue to fundraise aggressively. We asked for a sustainable design that modernizes our facilities without irresponsibly wasting student fees on the outlandish perks of other Big Ten facilities. They came up with a design worthy of LEED accreditation that fulfills our needs without being excessive. At a university where students are increasingly left out of the decision-making process, Rec Sports asked us to dictate the terms of how our segregated fees are spent, and I could not be more pleased with the result.
The Natatorium was completed in 1964, before college recreation facilities were required to have women’s locker rooms. The basketball courts are so old that if we sand them one more time, we’ll be playing on concrete. The pool at the Southeast Recreational Facility could cave in within a few years. We aren’t asking students to take part in some amenities arms race, we’re simply asking students to invest in the future of their campus, so future Badgers can be proud of their university.
I serve on SSFC to protect the student who pays for his own college and would rather see his dollars spent on beer than doled out in segregated fees. Passing on our dilapidated recreation facilities to future Badgers will cost us all more, both in the short term and long term. Take a minute, go to asm.wisc.edu, and vote to spend students’ money responsibly. Leave your legacy.
Devon Maier (dsmaier