Student referendum vote on recreational sports fee a possibility
UPDATED: Two student forums to discuss the recreational sports fee have been scheduled 4p.m. Feb. 18 at Brooks City-Base Campus and 3p.m. Feb. 20 at Main Campus Building. Dr. Melissa Mahan, vice president for Student Affairs, announce the forums are open to faculty, staff, and students this morning in War Room, the university’s open monthly administrative meeting. Mahan’s announcement was followed by President Maria Hernandez Ferrier’s acknowledgment that the student body is interested in offering sports at the university.
By Michael Peters
University administration is considering a recreational sports fee not exceeding $175 per student for the fall and spring and $87.50 for each summer session, according to Kenneth Mitts, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer.
These amounts are the maximum allowed for a recreational sports fee according to the Texas Education Code Chapter 54, section 54.539. Implementation of the fee depends on passing a student vote. A timeline for the student vote was not available, but would be the next step following the approval of the fee amount.
Fees collected can only be used for the “financing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and improving new and existing recreational sports facilities” at Texas A&M-San Antonio, according to the education code.
Students turned down the chance to implement a recreational sports fee in March 2012 when 51 percent of the valid voters opposed the fee.
This is the first year since 2012 the recreational sports fee is eligible to be voted on again, as the fee can only be recommended every two years, according to the education code.
If implemented, the recreational sports fee would fund club and intramural sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball or softball. The fee would be used to cover costs related to the needs of having club and intramural sports such as leasing facilities, equipment, traveling and hiring referees. If the fee is not implemented, it would mean an additional two years before the issue can be brought to a vote again.
Mitts said administration will also consider a referendum for a student center fee.
The Texas Education Code Chapter 54, section 54.521 states that a student center fee can be levied “for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, renovating, operating, maintaining, improving, adding to, replacing, financing, and equipping one or more student center facilities for the institution.” The fee cannot exceed $100 per student for the fall and spring and $50 per student for each summer session.
Dr. Melissa Mahan, vice president for student affairs, said she met with the Student Government Association this week and said it seems as though students want a recreational center facility to hold sporting events.
“It depends on what students want,” Mahan said. “We’re letting students direct it.”
Building a recreational sports facility would mean that the recreational sports fee would be more expensive for students than a fee only covering sports programs.
Mahan said everything is preliminary at this point because the process was initiated last week.
“We’re still gathering information and researching,” Mahan said. “We’ll probably know more next week.”
If implementation of a recreational sports fee passes by a student vote, it would then have to be submitted to the Texas A&M-University System Board of Regents for approval by March 1, the unofficial deadline for submission.
Any vote would have to occur before that date — a full month earlier than the vote took place in 2012. That deadline has administrators weighing whether is is plausible to complete the entire process on time.
“If leadership decides to move forward with the referendum then I think we have time,” Mitts said.
Mahan said administration will hold student forums within the next two weeks where students can ask any questions they have about the fee. Administration has not yet looked into any specific fee numbers yet.
“We’ll have scenarios ready by then,” Mahan said.