Writer’s name withheld upon request. Please note that the opinions expressed in articles do not reflect Arthur Newspaper or the Arthur Board of Directors. In response to this article, we welcome letters to [email protected]
Over the last few years the University has seen great commitment from campus partners to continue growing and supporting students. Colleges have increased the number of programs they run for all students, and the TCSA has shown immense effort in strengthening clubs and groups throughout the campus. There is one exception, though. The Trent Athletics Centre has made an innumerable amount of decisions over the last two years that appear to prioritize community members over Trent students. There are a number of reasons why the current Director of Athletics is not capable of effectively running a university athletics facility or varsity program, which I will outline below.
Students pay much, much more than other university athletic centers, while receiving much, much less.
While the management at the Athletic Centre would like you to believe you are paying a low fee, the mandatory fee all students pay is actually substantially higher than most institutions (which I will highlight below). And this fee continues to grow on a yearly basis, while services are still being cut.
While the current fee which all students pay is $201 dollars, over the last four years the membership has excluded the four summer months. As well, any fitness classes students want to participate in are not included. That requires the additional purchase of a fitness pass.
Also, and most troubling, the $50 expansion fee was put in place in 2006 to build the new Trent Athletic Centre. Since the Athletic Centre was fully built and accessible in 2011, that “expansion fee” has continued to be collected. What has the Athletic Centre been doing with those funds? Putting it right back into their operational costs (which goes against the function of the fee in the first place). This is not only conning students into paying more, but breaks the terms of reference set forth for ancillary fees which students are required to pay.
I have provided a breakdown of the fees a typical varsity student is required to pay. This does not include the summer, so students training then would need to pay additional fees:
Expansion Fee: $50
Varsity Fee: $320
Fitness Class Fee: $60 ($30 per semester)
Club Fee (varies based on club): upwards of $250
Total: approx. $881 +
Also, while Trent prides itself on campus recreation sports, any students who want to participate must pay for those as well.
While the Director of Athletics is on the sunshine list with a 2016 salary of $121,387.00, varsity students are putting in extra hours of practice, and paying a lot more than they should be paying! And this does not include the fact that the travel is just on the least expensive mode of transportation: a yellow bus (while other institutions use chartered buses with washrooms).
The Athletic Centre makes improvements to the facility based on the survey they send out to members. Who is not included in the survey? Students!
Students are the biggest stakeholders at the AC. In fact, the AC brings in a whopping $1.7 million from student fees. How much do they make from members? Just over $620,000. But why is the AC more concerned about member services? Because students are guaranteed money. Students do not (yet) have the ability to cancel a membership if we are not satisfied. Students don’t have the ability to find another gym, unless we want to pay for two separate athletic facilities (which many, unfortunately, are required to do).
Why is the weight equipment not upgraded, but some cardio equipment is? Because the vast number of community members, who can cancel at any time if they are unsatisfied, want more cardio equipment.
Also, you see those prizes they give out? “Free Towel Service and Locker Service to 10 members,” and the like. Ever notice how you students are not included in that? And yet, it is you who subsidizes the cost of the prizes for members.
The Athletic Centre gives members exclusive parking close to the AC. Who is not allowed to park there? Students, staff or faculty.
Yes, that parking lot next to the AC? You probably got a ticket for parking there, right? Your student dollars are subsidizing that spot while the university struggles to find space for students, staff and faculty; meanwhile, the community members are guaranteed a special spot right next to the building. While you may be required to park in the Lady Eaton College lot, or even behind Champlain, the Director of Athletics wants to make sure those community members have prime access to the Centre which we, as students, pay for!
Cuts to union staff hours means more tasks for student staff.
Furthermore, students must fill the gaps in service left behind by cuts to the hours worked by unionized employees. Student staff at the Athletic Centre have taken on many, many more tasks than they are required to complete. This may be painted as an “opportunity” for students, but it is, in the end, a way to save money. As long as more manager positions are added, and the Director stays on the sunshine list, there doesn’t seem to be any issues, right?
The Athletic Centre charges other university stakeholders to use the gymnasium.
That’s right! Those exams you wrote in the AC in December and April? There is a premium the Centre charges the university for having those desks in there. The open houses or student fairs that take place? Those charges all go in as revenue for the Athletic Centre.
This shows that the AC has no interest in encouraging these events and attracting more students to our university (and, of course, bringing up our retention rates). Those events mean more revenue for the Athletic Centre. This amounts to tens of thousands of dollars coming right out of the university’s operations budget as well as department budgets.
So, what can you do?
First, email AC Director Deborah Bright-Brundle ([email protected]) and CC Trent Vice-PResident Steven Pillar ([email protected]) as well as President Leo Goarke ([email protected]) about any complaints you have. This will ensure your email is answered, and Bright-Bundle’s supervisors are aware of the issues students encounter at the Athletic Centre.
Second, sign the petition that will be going around which will:
- Remove the $50 expansion fee as a mandatory ancillary fee, and;
- Allow students to opt out of the $201 Athletics Fee.
By doing this, the Athletic Centre will then be required to treat all students as a member, and make sure they offer an excellent and clean facility for all members, students included.
We have amazing athletes at this University, and we want that to grow. We need to make students a focus in the Athletic Centre on our campus. This is our opportunity to showcase the great potential in our athletic facilities, and attract more athletes to Trent University.