Athletic fee proposed for UH-Manoa students
|Reader poll: Should there be a student fee to support UH athletics?|
By Ferd Lewis and Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writers
By Ferd Lewis and Kalani Takase
University of Hawai'i-Manoa students could be asked to support athletics by voluntarily paying up to $50 a semester in exchange for free admission to sporting events, according to a plan by the student government.
The proposal would apply to full-time undergraduate students and provide "an option for students to receive a reimbursement if they do not wish to participate."
The resolution was passed by the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i in April. There will be a public hearing before the proposal goes to the UH Board of Regents,
Money from the program could not be used for administrative costs but some would be used to improve women's sports, according to the resolution.
"I wouldn't want to pay it, because I don't go to the games and I feel athletics gets enough money as it is," said Jennifer Kawaguchi, a senior majoring in merchandising. "I would opt for the reimbursement."
Joshua Peacott-Ricardos, a sophomore dietetics major, said the proposal could be beneficial if students take full advantage of it.
"Of course, I think it will save a lot of money for students who do attend a lot of the sports games, but maybe not so much for students who only attend a few games a year and won't get their $50 worth," he said.
OPERATING AT DEFICIT
Currently, UH students pay $5 per football game and $3 for other events that charge admission.
Ashley Kitabayashi, a senior majoring in education, said: "I don't attend games regularly. I would like to, but usually my schedule conflicts. I personally wouldn't benefit from it. You'd have to attend something like 18 games a year to get your money's worth and I don't think most students will."
Grant Teichman, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i, said even with regents approval, he doesn't believe the plan could be implemented before fall 2008.
The proposal comes at a time when the 19-sport athletic department has operated at a deficit for four consecutive years and has an accumulated $4.6 million debt, according to an auditor's report.
Levying mandatory fees to help pay for athletics is becoming a common practice at football-playing institutions with budget concerns. At San Diego State a year ago a $160 fee was imposed by the administration, which overrode the "no" vote of a campus referendum. The Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i resolution notes that UH "is one of only three universities within the (nine-school) Western Athletic Conference" that does not have an athletic fee.
In recent years UH also has sought to increase student attendance with initiatives such as its "Manoa Maniacs" rooter section at major events. Teichman said there are about 11,000 full-time undergraduates.
Manoa Chancellor Denise Konan said the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i resolution is "a sign of the students' willingness to support athletics."
Peacott-Ricardos said, "Maybe it will help boost attendance since students figure that they should take advantage of what they already paid for."
Kawaguchi disagreed: "If students wanted to go to the games, they'd buy a ticket. Just having a ticket won't make them go; it won't make students gain interest."
Until the early 1980s the athletic department and UH had an arrangement whereby students were eligible for some prime football seating locations at Aloha Stadium. But as booster club membership grew and the need for seats grew, the athletic department began raising prices and retrieving as much as 25 percent of the unsold student seats per season beginning in 1981.
Teichman said the proposal would also help upgrade recreational facilities used by all students. For example, he said the student gym "has one treadmill for 20,000 students. I'm inclined to say one treadmill for 20,000 students" isn't enough.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.