UBC Athletic Fees

In case you missed it, earlier this month, the Ubyssey published an article highlighting a student effort to make it possible to opt-out of the $21 athletic fee currently integrated in UBC student fees. A follow-up article came out today from VP Finance Tristan Miller in response to the effort.

In the original article, Neal Yonson is cited as follows:

Yonson argues the group is taking the wrong approach to reforming fees; he said he wishes they would instead work with the athletics department to examine the overall budget and fee structure.

I agree with Yonson. As a (ex-)regular user of UBC Rec’s drop-in facilities, recreational leagues, and annual events, I have seen the value of the UBC Rec facilities; that being said, I have also seen the bad sides of UBC Rec many times.

In my experience, UBC Rec is the epitome of disorganization. One of my biggest peeves is the online drop-in schedule which is so seldom up-to-date that is not worth online viewing. Their other main method of sharing the drop-in schedule is through an automated message machine on their phone line; the last time I phoned this a couple of weeks ago, the message given was dated as being a couple weeks overdue, with an overdue and thus useless schedule. Although local team mates have been pissed off when we’ve shown up to league games only to find out that they had been canceled without any notice, bussing with friends out to UBC from Tsawwassen only to find out that the drop-in schedule was wrong and there was, in fact, no drop-in that day was a total and unnecessary disappointment.

Furthermore, I am not always impressed by their operations. Yes, I have met people at UBC Rec who are professional, courteous, and hard-working at their jobs. But I have also met people who are on Facebook instead of manning the front desk, people who are upstairs shooting hoops with friends in drop-in when they should be at the front desk, and people who have ignored ‘clients’ at the front desk to continue conversations with visiting friends. I have seen referees with UBC Rec who fail to make calls against players with whom they happen to know, and then proceed to converse and play around with those people during half-time and after the game. I have seen groups of UBC Rec people goofing around the front desk working on a promotions video, which I assume to be a problem only because I assume they were being paid for their unproductive time goofing off. (On that note, I wonder how much UBC Rec invests in promotions? I don’t know if I see this as a valuable allocation of resources as I think UBC Rec’s longtime and prominent presence on campus to carry its name around campus conversations; I do not think that having media teams spend hours filming and producing videos is an effective use of student dollars.)

Despite this, we continue to give them about a million dollars of our money each year.

Miller ends his piece on the following note:

If the petition goes forward and is placed on the ballot in the spring, it has the potential to remove nearly one million dollars in funding directed towards students. If this referenda passes, this is money that students may never see again. Be careful what you ask for, as you just might get it.

Although the athletic fee is funding directed towards students, I think it is important to recognize that “funding directed towards students” is not necessarily “funding that benefits students”. From what I have experienced with UBC Rec, “this is money that students may never see again”, even before the referenda that Miller warns about.

However, I do not yet know if I would completely support the petition to opt-out of the athletic fees. I think Yonson makes a good point in that UBC Rec offers an important service to students, and that it may be more beneficial to fix the system than to reduce its capacity. Rather than targeting the UBC athletic fees, perhaps it would be more beneficial to make demands possibly including those listed below amongst others, and then holding UBC Rec accountable for addressing such changes.

  • UBC Rec should maintain the online drop-in schedule as a valuable resource; it should be accurate and up-to-date at all times
  • UBC Rec should maintain its answering machine as a valuable resource; it should be accurate and up-to-date at all times
  • UBC Rec should implement a better system for deciding whether to cancel matches, and a better system to then inform league participants of such schedule changes
  • UBC Rec should have higher expectations of its employees, and hold them accountable should they choose to ignore their responsibilities
  • UBC Rec should instantiate a policy where league officials cannot officiate a game in which they have a personal relationship with any of the players present

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