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Editorial: Rec Center fee not fully thought through

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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Go there any time between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on any given weekday, and it's no wonder the Student Recreation Center is asking for a new student fee to dramatically increase the building's size. Long lines of fit bodies wait to get in the weight room, and rows of treadmills are full. Suddenly 80,000 square feet becomes claustrophobic.

The proposed expansion, which would be built in two phases, would expand the building westward over where a parking lot currently sits. The first phase will expand the weight room to 30,000 square feet and a cardio room to 6,000 square feet. The second phase would include more basketball courts.

Initial reaction from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona seems positive, with President Alistair Chapman even calling it a recruitment and retention tool. The proposed fee, coming in at about $14 per semester, would have to go through students first, and a vote could happen as soon as October.

Students should hope that the issue is more thoroughly evaluated before then. For one, other options exist to increase the capacity at the Rec Center. Currently closing at midnight, the recreation center would be able to accommodate more students if it were open 24 hours a day. Even without all-day service, couldn't students alleviate long lines during peak hours - which make up only a small portion of the facility's operating schedule - by utilizing the Rec Center's services at non-peak times? As it sits now, the Rec Center is already open 18 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to midnight most days.

The real problem is that too many students want to use the Rec Center at peak hours. Does that warrant yet another fee tacked on to our growing tuition bills, which include a multitude of fees as it is? And if we're going to have another fee on campus, aren't there more pressing concerns than lines at the Rec Center between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.?

If a bigger Rec Center is that important, and it may be for the long term, it might be prudent to pay off the first set of bills before creating even more debt. Students already pay $25 per semester to help pay off the long-term bond that was needed to build the current facility. Another alternative that ASUA could examine is a usage fee. Instead of forcing all students to pay a fee for something that only some students use, why not have the students who use it pay?

ASUA has, in the past, acted too quickly to throw new fees or programs - like last year's activity fee - at students, without analyzing the potential consequences or setbacks that could arise. Let's hope this isn't one of those times.

Opinions are decided by the Wildcat Opinions Board and written by one of its members. They are Evan Caravelli, Brett Fera, Caitlin Hall, Ryan Johnson, Jesse Lewis, Lisa Rich and Tim Runestad.

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