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Letter to the editor: UB Student Association e-board asks for separate athletics and recreation fees

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UB Undergraduates,

Whether it’s a lack of space, intramurals fees, or poor equipment in UB gyms, chances are you have been frustrated by the circumstances surrounding recreation on your campus. Considering each UB undergraduates pays $267.35 each semester towards an Athletics and Recreation fee, of which only 8% is used for recreation (Division I Athletics receives the remaining 92%) we believe students should be provided better recreation services. For the last several months, the Student Association Executive Board has been tirelessly advocating to improve recreation services on our campus. After many meetings with university leadership and the Athletics Department, it is the opinion of the SA Executive Board that recreation fee should be separated and administered by Student Affairs with the goal of establishing a standalone recreation facility within 3 years. We invite you to read our letter to President Tripathi outlining our proposal. If you wish to share your opinions about recreation on our campus or to join our advocacy efforts, please email us at minahilk@buffalo.edu

-SA Executive Board

Dear President Tripathi,

As the end of the Broad-Based Fee process approaches, we are reaching out to you on behalf of the undergraduate population here at UB. Over the last several years, there has been an increasing amount of frustration relating to recreation on our campus among UB students, staff, and faculty. The complaints range from a lack of space to improperly maintained recreation facilities. As representatives of the undergraduate population, we have taken the last several months to educate ourselves about the issue so that we can better advocate for UB students.

Early in the fall semester we met with Amanda Gross, Assistant Athletic Director for Administration, and Nate Wills, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration, in regards to the Athletics Fee. Through our conversation, we learned that the Athletics fee has an egregiously inequitable split between Division I Athletics and Recreation. According to the university comprehensive fee website, Division I Athletics receives 92% of the fee, whereas recreation receives 8%. The lack of resources allocated to recreation has created many problems such as: additional fees for intramurals and athletic courses, inadequate equipment in UB facilities, improper maintenance, and overall insufficient space. These problems have only added an unnecessary burden on UB students and have devalued the student experience on our campus.

In addition to insufficient allocation towards recreation, our communication with the Athletics Department reveals a lack of commitment towards recreation on our campus. At the Broad Base Fee consultation fee meeting, Nate Wills stated Athletics is not responsible for the maintenance of recreation facilities such as Walter Kunz Stadium, the basketball courts in Ellicott Housing Complex, and the tennis courts near Alumni Arena.

Beyond our own advocacy with Athletics, we have continuously aimed to create opportunities for UB students to share their input about recreation on our campus. Last week the Student Association hosted an open forum for students with representatives from the Athletics Department. Instead of addressing the underlying issues about recreation on our campus or openly discussing possible solutions, the representatives from Athletics consistently attempted to justify their uneven distribution towards Division I Athletics. In addition, we have met with various university leaders about our concerns including, Campus Living Director Andrea Costantino, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Ricotta, Vice President of Student Affairs Dennis Black, and Vice President for Finance and Administration Laura Hubbard.

Based on our experiences, it our firm belief that the Department of Athletics is not the appropriate steward of recreation on our campus. We are advocating to split the Athletics and Recreation fee for UB undergraduates so that Recreation is housed under Student Affairs as opposed to Athletics. Our proposal calls for a $240.35 Athletics fee and a $158 Recreation fee. The proposed decrease in the Athletics fee accounts for the current recreation portion of the Athletics fee. The new recommended recreation amount is based on both recreation studies conducted by Brailsford and Dunlavey, an industry leading consultant, and our conversation with Andrea Costantino. The new fee would allow Student Affairs to build a new, standalone recreation facility within three years, while also immediately improving existing facilities.

We fully understand student concerns with the rising cost of attendance; however, we feel that the current state of recreation on our campus requires this change. In the most recent study conducted to evaluate UB recreation, 72% of students were willing to pay $129 to $165 towards building a new recreation center. Many of our SUNY peers have adopted similar initiatives and now feature recreation facilities that are vastly superior to our campus facilities.

On behalf on the undergraduate population, we strongly encourage you to examine the need for a new recreation fee. We are committed to working with Vice President Black, Athletic Director Greene, Vice President Hubbard, and yourself towards the fruition of our proposal.

Thank you for your time,

Minahil Khan, SA President

Sean T. Kaczmarek, SA Vice President

Joseph T. Pace, SA Treasurer


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