Any one of the 83 percent of students who stepped foot into any of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s recreational sports facilities last year can tell you they leave much to be desired. Students have to trek up five flights of stairs to get from the weight room to the cardio room at the Serf. Pipes are constantly leaking, and students can frequently be seen huddled at the back of the room waiting for a machine to become available. Forty percent of outdoor recreational sports activities, which students pay a fee to participate in, are lost annually due to the condition of the fields.
To do anything other than vote yes on the Recreational Sports referendum on the upcoming Associated Students of Madison’s spring ballot would be to simply delay the inevitable. These facilities will need to be rebuilt in the near future, and to continue to funnel money into restoring these buildings would be like putting a Band-Aid on someone who needs surgery. Frankly, it would be an irresponsible use of money.
Very few other recipients of segregated fees reach as many students as the Rec Sports facilities do. These facilities not only promote both physical and mental well being but also help students form friendships, boost grades, do better in interviews and make the university more attractive for prospective students. Standing by as they fall apart is not in anyone’s best interest.
Yes, this upgrade does not come without a price to future students. The project would ultimately cost around $223 million to complete. Students currently pay $36.78 per semester to Rec Sports. If the referendum passes, seg fees will increase to a maximum of $144, which is below the Big Ten average of $145.06.
While we recognize the vitality of always thinking long and hard about raising segregated fees by such a substantial amount, we see this raise as being inevitable. Voting no means voting to continue to pour money into run-down facilities that are not designed to serve 43,000 students that would likely have to be reconstructed in the somewhat near future anyways.
The Teaching Assistant’s Association recently called on the UW Athletic Department to contribute more than the $7 million they are already proposing to help fund the renovations. While we would appreciate any larger of a donation the Athletic Department could give, this board recognizes that these facilities are not the department’s responsibility.
To vote yes to the RecSports referendum is to be fiscally responsible, supportive of the well-being of future students and responsive to the needs of the university. Just do it.
Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect if the referendum passes, student segregated fees will increase to a maximum of $144.
For more information, read details on the Rec Sports Master Plan.