Heading into April, little headway seems to have been made by students or the administration regarding the much contested $50 Student Capital fee, and how its collection and expenditure ought to be managed. However, it is not due to a lack of trying by Athletic Centre (AC) administration. Director of Athletics Deborah Bright-Brundle and her team have spearheaded the issue raised by an anonymous article published by Arthur in early February, and has responded by working closely with the TCSA while offering the student body every opportunity to express concerns and ask questions to get to the bottom of what students feel should happen in regards to expenditure of the capital fee.
On March 15th, the AC hosted a one-hour information session regarding foul-play allegations of student capital fee spending that included a rough outline of how the fee was spent for the past three years, and a projection of future spending, including both facility upkeep and their long term plan on paying off the substantial balance on expansion project mortgage payments. The info session kicked off with TCSA President, Alaine Spiwak, speaking on behalf of the TCSA and its current position on how the fee should be spent. Spiwak outlined that the issue was extensively discussed in TCSA meetings, primarily focusing on the determination of some ambiguous and inconsistent language throughout a number of separate documents at the time the fee was being considered in 2004. A definitive decision has not yet been achieved, however. This will likely fall into the hands of the incoming TCSA board to make a decision on the issue in conjunction with Athletic Centre administration.
The TCSA President then gave the floor to the Athletics Director Deborah Bright-Brundle, who addressed a paltry audience of six students, three of which were comprised of AC staff and this Arthur reporter, making it clear that either students have lost interest or couldn’t be bothered to attend. Nevertheless, the presentation was the first of its kind to contain a hard budget summary, detailed plans for the future, and how exactly the AC is working towards broadening their revenue streams in order to meet its mortgage payments.
Twenty minutes was allotted for questions from the audience following the presentation, and Arthur led the conversation. Bright-Brundle was asked to elaborate on some specifics yet to be clarified, such as whether or not there is any plan to increase revenue streams to a point where, once the mortgage of the new developments has been paid off, the student capital fee of $50 will be eradicated and cut from student tuition. To this, the AC Director said that revenue streams will continue to expand, but the axing of the fee would have to be revisited at a later date when the mortgage is more manageable. The question of whether community members should also be paying an annual capital fee was brought up. Bright-Brundle noted here that the AC is currently toying with the idea of having community members pay an annual fee, or simply charging a higher one time fee upon signing up at the AC.
With a new incoming TCSA board, the fate of this fee will fall into the hands of a new set of student leaders in the fall. Nevertheless, the question of whether or not another student referendum is the only fair way to resolve this type of issue still hangs in the air.