College News

$94 increase in student fees for Nick funding approved

SSFC members cited a 2014 student referendum as support for passing the fee raise. 

Image By: Kalli Anderson

The Student Services Finances Committee approved a $94 increase in student segregated fees to fund the Nicholas Recreation Center Monday

Members of SSFC expressed concerns over the increase in student fees but justified the hike in part due to a 2014 student consensus.

Currently, funding for Recreational Sports accounts for around 10 percent of the $641.08 student segregated fee at $63.78. 

The decision to hold off raising fees of this magnitude until this year was voted upon in a 2014 referendum. The referendum saw a 35 percent turnout rate as students were asked to voice their opinions on the Recreational Sports Master Plan. Eighty-seven percent of students who voted approved the plan, according to the Rec Sports Master Plan

Part of the Master Plan was to completely redo the Southeast Recreational Facility, and $42 million of the $87.5 million project will fall on the shoulders’ of students. 

SSFC Chair Jeremy Swanson noted the validity of the referendum in the decision to approve Rec Sports’ budget. Swanson said although many students who voted to put off the raise in fees are no longer attending the university, they will also not be able to enjoy the facilities. 

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Swanson said. 

Rec Sports President John Horn presented his budget to SSFC last week. 

“This is the big one. Since the we passed the referendum, we knew this one was coming,” Horn said. 

Horn said $89 of the $94 increase will go directly toward implementing new projects in the Master Plan, such as the Nick. The other $5 will go toward operational costs of the new facility. 

Horn also emphasized that this year over half of the student fee revenue went into student wages for those employed by Rec Sports. The number of student employees is expected to rise with the introduction of the Nick next fiscal year. 

The increase in fees will put UW-Madison on par with other Big Ten universities. According to Horn, the average student fee for recreation is $155.20 at peer institutions. At $157.78, the new fee will put students near the average. 

Part of the referendum stipulated that the segregated fees would not be raised by more than $108. That number was to ensure that students spent less than the average Big Ten segregated fees cost, according to the Master Plan. 

The Nick will offer 46,000 more square feet than the previous SERF. The concern over space was cited by students in the 2014 referendum, according to Horn. 

“We wanted to maximize the space and not put bells and whistles all over the facility and not have a lot of permanent walls and hallways,” Horn said. 

The Nick is scheduled to open in January of 2020, according to predictions from Horn. 

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