Students torn over athletics fee issue
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 12:02
There has been a wide range of opinions circulating around campus after the Student Senate found on Sunday night that students were receiving little in return for paying the mandatory athletics fee. According to Student Activity Fee Chair Bryan Merrill’s research, students who attend five football games and 10 hockey games only use about $220 of the $954 they paid for the athletics fee, based on ticket prices. Some students were upset to find that the majority of the money was going directly to the athletic department, while others were in full support of the fee and the program it funds.
Many seemed to understand that this issue has two sides, with one being a loss of money and the other being a good athletic program.
“There’s good and bad things,” senior Allison Brehm said. “We pay money for athletes, but they bring in revenue for the school.” Brehm was referring to how some of the money goes toward paying for scholarships for student athletes.
Some students were concerned that their money is going to other students.
“No one pays for me to go to school, and although they do deserve the scholarships, I don’t think that it should be at the expense of other students,” junior Emily Bird said.
Other students had similar thoughts, although they wondered if there was a better way to help the athletes.
“I wish I could see where exactly the money goes. Is us paying the only way to fund scholarships, or are there other ways that they haven’t looked into yet?” said Cassie Stever, a junior.
Taylor Sherman, also a junior, agreed.
“I think they should reevaluate where they get their scholarship money from,” she said.
Other students are just hoping that the fee will go down instead of continuing to rise as it has been.
“It’s unfair for the students who are here for academic purposes to carry the burden, and thus the fee needs to be adjusted to a number more representative of the average student’s athletic involvement,” Patrick Egan said.
Many other students agreed, saying that they enjoy athletics but wish that it didn’t have to cost so much. Others said they wish they could just get more for what they pay. Steven Pampreen, a junior, is not sure if that will be possible, he said.
“I’m not sure how many more benefits they can give us,” he said. Currently, the only quantifiable benefit of the fee is that it gets students into sporting events free of charge.
A lot of students don’t think that’s enough. Freshman Matt Gately said, “Free hockey tickets are pretty sweet, but it’s almost $800 going to waste.”
Athletic Director Marty Scarano believes that the fee has a lot of positives, he said.
“Our value is significant. It’s not just about hockey tickets,” he said. Scarano went on to say that the athletic department is fully aware of the burden on students and they’re working to make cuts any way they can.
“We’ve made cuts and grown our revenue,” he said. The department has recently cut competitions and has downgraded some sports from Division One to club teams.
Students who view the fee and the athletic program as a positive understand that the athletic program is working hard to help students.
“It’s good because I enjoy going to some of the sporting events, but I know they’re doing a good job at cutting things,” junior Connor Slein said.
Many other students are in full support of the athletic program as well.
“Athletics brings a sense of community and pride for the university to get behind,” senior Nick Schmalhofer said. “I guess (the fee) is pricey, but if students went to more events they’d get their money’s worth.”
This is something that many student athletes wish other students would understand. Ugochukwu Uche, a member of the soccer team, wants students to realize this and take advantage of all the free sporting events taking place on campus.
“UNH is a Division One school, and at most schools students have to pay for games,” he said. He went on to say that the athletic fee shouldn’t be thought of any differently than any other fee we pay for. He used the fee students pay for the Counseling Center as an example, because like athletics it doesn’t affect everyone and yet students are required to pay for it.
“We pay for so many different services, and you can choose to use them or you can choose to sit in your room,” he said. On whether or not he feels guilty about students paying for his scholarship, Uche said that he has definitely thought about the issue. He wishes that the athletic department would offer students more benefits for the fee in order to balance things out more.
Other student athletes have also thought about the idea that students are paying for them to attend UNH and participate on a sports team.
“I’m definitely appreciative, because without them we wouldn’t have a football team,” football player Matt Kaplan said. “The guys are very aware of that.”