UPDATE 03/04/2013: This article has been updated to reflect input from the Division of Recreational Sports.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Assistants’ Association responded to Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s statement on her blog regarding funding for the Recreational Sports Master Plan, reiterating its belief the Athletic Department should increase contribution to the project.
The response reinforced the association’s belief the Athletic Department should contribute a larger sum to the Recreational Sports Master Plan, arguing the department needs to contribute to the well-being of the student body that helps support them. Currently, the plan outlines the department’s $7 million contribution, which is 3 percent of the plan’s cost, with students providing 57 percent.
Charity Schmidt, co-president of the association, said Blank’s response was “disappointing,” as it separates two departments of the university, instead of regarding them as part of a whole in which each part helps and supports the others.
“The view of campus as just the sum of its parts overlooks the real quality work that is done on the university and what makes this a world-renowned place to get an education,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also said the TAA’s campaign requesting more funding from the Athletic Department has seen a strong response from university students, faculty and employees.
John Horn, director of Recreational Sports, said in an email statement Tuesday that the Athletic Department’s contribution will not change before the Associated Students of Madison Spring Elections voting closes March 5. A “no” vote for the referendum will not increase funding from Athletics.
Horn said in the statement Athletics would pay much less if the referendum is voted down and Rec Sports is “forced to move forward with the repair options in the facilities.”
While Horn said Rec Sports has reached out to students about the proposed plan and made itself available to concerns since August 2013, he said the TAA did not engage in developing the plan and expressed issue with the funding breakdown and contribution from Athletics until February.
“We made every effort on our part to engage with this group,” Horn said. “That feedback [on Athletic funding] could’ve been a lot more researched and looked into back in August, if we would’ve been given any opportunity to engage with them.”
Horn added that while Rec Sports appreciates the TAA saying it does not oppose the plan, he said he wishes lines of communication with the TAA could have been more open as they had been with other student and community groups.
Schmidt said she does not know whether Athletics will shift its stance on the issue, but said she hopes the issue “reminds them that they are part of this grand university and that it inspires them to give back.”
The Master Plan is up for vote this week through March 5.