Open letter re: “Serious issues at Athletic Centre” (Jan 31, 2017)

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I would like to take this opportunity to issue an open letter in response to the article about the Athletics Centre, written anonymously and published by Arthur February 3rd, 2017. For clarity purposes, I was not made aware of the article in advance of its publication or given an opportunity to provide information ahead of time to address any concerns or to provide input or perspective on the information that was published. As such, I feel it is important to provide additional information, and in some cases to correct information related to points made in that article. As various comments made in the article pertain to other University departments, I wanted to take the time to confirm the correct information from those departments prior to issuing this response. Transparency and verification of facts, especially information that is published, is important as it ensures that all sides of a story are presented.

Taking on the position of Director, Athletics & Recreation at Trent University in July, 2014 has been a great point of pride for me. Over the last two and a half years, we have built an exceptionally strong team of full-time staff, part-time student-staff, student-athletes, coaches, and sport and aquatics program instructors to best serve our students and community program members. A lot of work and true team effort have gone into plans that have strengthened the Excalibur Varsity program, grown our Campus Recreation and Youth Development programs, invested in fitness equipment, involved the Kinesiology program and the Trent Centre for Aging and Society, and launched new sponsorship programs and revitalized community membership. All of these initiatives have been focused on enhancing our business so that we can reinvest in the programs and services that we provide to our students and program customers.

I am very proud of the hard work and dedication of the Trent Athletics team, the many successes, championships, and medals our Excalibur Varsity student-athletes and coaches have experienced, and I hope that the following clarifications will allay concerns or misunderstandings and affirm our commitment to student satisfaction and program excellence. I welcome any and all continued dialogue and I can be reached directly at [email protected] or by phone at 705-748-1011 x 1252 or on my Trent cellular phone at 705-760-2838. Only with feedback, and by working together, can we continue to grow and enhance our programs.

Student Ancillary Fee

University Ancillary fees are governed by the Compulsory Ancillary Fee Protocol, managed through the College and Student Services Committee (CASSC) and approved by the Trent Board of Governors. The Athletics fees are determined in the same way other compulsory ancillary fees are. These fees include Colleges, counselling, accessibility services, health services, campus card and convocation, as well as orientation for first-year students.

Any Athletics fee increases beyond inflation are approved by the student representatives on the CASSC Athletics Advisory Committee, then CASSC. These Committees are made up of student representatives from the TCSA, TGSA and college cabinets, who vote on fees. If students have questions about ancillary fees and how they are determined, they are welcome to contact their student representatives, or the Office of Student Affairs ([email protected]). 

Athletics fees are made up of two components: the general Athletics fee ($201) and the Athletics expansion fee {to be used to accomplish future growth and expansion goals} ($50). The former has been in place since before the protocol, and the latter was voted on by student referendum in 2004.

Trent Athletics has not requested a fee increase beyond inflation for the past three budget cycles. Over the last two and a half years, Trent Athletics has focused its energies on sourcing new revenue streams to grow the overall departmental revenue base and provide a more diversified funding base for the Athletics & Recreation Department.

The article also referenced a club fee of “up-wards to $250 dollars” and to confirm this is not a fee that is part of the Trent Athletics revenue or budget. (This reference may be to TCSA Sports Clubs which is managed through the TCSA and not Trent Athletics.)

Lastly, each University’s ancillary fees will be based upon different factors, not just what is included in each fee yet the fee may also be based upon what other Athletics items are funded within a University’s budget overall. In comparison to other universities please find below some examples of Athletics Ancillary Fees:

Western University         $275.82 + additional charges for campus recreation

University of Toronto     $384.55 + additional charges for campus recreation

Carleton University          $190.50+ additional charges for campus recreation, fitness passes and student summer members

Guelph University          $184.13 + additional charges for campus recreation and fitness passes

Staffing

Trent Athletics is proud to be one of the main employers of part-time student-staff on campus, employing over 100 students annually. Their contribution is absolutely invaluable to the success of our programs and services. I am very proud of our student-staff and I am very thankful to them for all of their work and the leadership that they provide.

Trent Athletics also currently has sixteen permanent positions. There were twelve permanent positions when I arrived at Trent Athletics in July 2014. As we are able to enhance our business, we have ensured that we invested back into the positions, and people, that are directly aligned with our programs and services. I believe the strong combination that we have with our full-time staff and our part-time student staff makes an exceptional team that provides quality programs and services in a dynamic and ever-changing environment. We also hear from those students that this work experience is invaluable to them in rounding out their education.

Surveys and Services

Customer feedback is key to the success of our programs and service delivery. In the last two years Trent Athletics has been establishing various vehicles to obtain ongoing feedback from students and program users and community members. All surveys are posted online and available to any student or program member. In addition, there are dedicated student surveys for the Campus Recreation Program (two surveys a year) and the Excalibur Varsity program (one survey a year) to obtain specific feedback on those two programs.

Trent Athletics also has a Member Advisory Committee made up of five members of which two positons are student representatives. This Committee, although new, has been established as a vehicle for the department to receive areas for improvement, recommended solutions, and generally enhance relationships and communication with students and members, to help shape decisions to enhance the quality of programs and services provided to students and community members.

Most recently, Trent Athletics has also established a Varsity Supports Varsity Athlete Council comprising twelve student-athletes (representing each varsity program) to provide feedback on specific varsity items as well as input on a variety of programs (i.e. Awards Banquet) and leadership opportunities (i.e. Mini-Excalibur program where the Men’s Volleyball varsity student-athletes went to Chemong Public School in 2016 to host a volleyball training session for their students and most recently over twenty Varsity student-athletes hosted 150 local youth for the Special Olympics PAHL Sports Festival at the Athletics Centre gym on January 27th, 2017).

Trent Athletics also works directly with the Athletics Advisory Committee and the Athletics budget is presented annually to both the Athletics Advisory Committee and the Colleges and Student Services Committee (CASSC). The Athletic Advisory Committee serves to enhance the total student-athlete experience by providing sport, recreation, and wellness opportunities for all student-athletes and ensuring student-athlete prosperity through effective communication between the Athletics & Recreation Department, the Trent study body, and Trent staff/faculty.

All of the Athletics Centre promotional draws (for towel service, lockers, etc.) are inclusive of our student members and three Trent students have won as part of the last three draws. Trent students are also invited to participate in all appreciation events that take place throughout the year and which are scheduled to specifically coincide with student schedules.

Trent Athletics also has a main email address [email protected] to gather any and all feedback. This is tracked in the Request Tracker system as a means to ensure we can effectively and efficiently respond to inquiries.

Parking

The Parking Office reports through to the Risk Management Department. Trent Athletics does not control the parking lot that is beside the Athletics Centre. Trent Athletics did work with the Parking Office to set up dedicated parking spots for community members (approximately forty percent of the spots available in the parking lot by the Athletics Centre). Parking, as part of the Community Membership, contributes to keeping fees lower and enhancing programs and services.

Rentals at the Athletics Centre and the Athletics Centre as an Ancillary Department of the University

As an additional piece of information, the Athletics Centre is an Ancillary Department of the University. As such, the Department of Athletics & Recreation (like other Ancillary Departments such as Housing, Parking, Conference Services, etc.) has to develop sustainable and diversified revenue streams to cover its departmental operating costs.

It is important to note that Trent Athletics does provide complementary space to all TCSA Sports Clubs and other smaller rental opportunities within the University.

In closing, I would emphasize my willingness to have an open discussion with any student or program member so that we can work together to continue to grow and enhance sport, fitness and wellness programs and services. To provide me with your feedback, or to set a meeting, I can be reached by email at [email protected] or phone at 705-748-1011 x 1252 or my Trent cellular phone at 705-760-2838.

I would like to close by thanking all of our staff, students, varsity student-athletes, coaches and programs members and partners that I have the pleasure of working with. I look forward to continuing to work together to enhance these partnerships to provide a greater number of quality programs and services in the future.

Sincerely,

 

Deborah Bright-Brundle – Director, Athletics & Recreation

Trent University