UPDATE [Nov. 29, 8:20 p.m.]: The University of King’s College board of governors voted Thursday in favour of implementing a new athletics fee, reported the King’s Student Union on Twitter. The decision was made despite 70 per cent of voting students opposing the new charge.
The yearly $180 fee per student will be put into effect once the GoodLife-style gym opens. That is expected in 2015/2016.
As a result of the board’s decision, university president George Cooper has committed to seeking representation for a King’s student on the facility’s user committee.
UPDATE [Nov. 29, 10:43 a.m]: University of King’s College students soundly voted against a proposed athletics fee hike, with 70 per cent of those casting ballots rejecting the additional $180 cost.
The referendum results, released Wednesday night, revealed that 245 students out of 349 opposed the hike. The “yes” side was represented with 23 per cent of the vote, with the remaining votes from students who either abstained or spoiled their ballots.
Twenty-nine per cent of the student body voted in the referendum.
The final decision in this discussion will come from the school’s board of governors, who will take the referendum results into consideration at a meeting Nov. 29.
There are at least 22 members on the board, three of whom are students whose vote is bound to the referendum’s decision.
A proposed yearly $180 fee for University of King’s College students to pay for membership at a new Dalhousie fitness facility faced opposition from students at a town hall-style meeting Nov. 26.
Three years ahead of the building’s scheduled opening in 2015/2016, a vast majority of the gathered 30 students voiced apprehension toward making the infrastructure project a mandatory charge for all King’s students.
The audience cited a myriad of reasons for their rejection, from the belief that funds would be better served enhancing King’s own facilities to confusion over what they would be paying for.
If King’s decides to help their neighbour pay for the new facility in this week’s student referendum and the succeeding vote from the school’s board of governors, it will come at a steep cost. An additional fee of $180 per student per year will be charged once the building opens. This is in addition to the $259.56 the school’s students are already paying for fitness amenities at both universities.
Dal has already committed to requiring the additional fee from their student body.
Amelia Wilding, a student who opposed the fee hike, expressed worry that the cost of this project would prohibit the school from pursuing future projects.
“It restricts us in being able to invest in our school when we need to,” she said.
Regardless of what King’s students decide when casting their ballots from Nov. 27 to 28, the referendum’s result is not binding. The school’s board of governors will make their decision Nov. 29, taking the referendum into consideration. The three student representatives to the board have said they will vote in favour of the mandate they receive from their membership.
King’s registrar Elizabeth Yeo was one of three university administrators to pledge support for the project, which has been pitched as a “very large GoodLife Fitness.” She told the student crowd this would hamstring the school’s messaging that King’s is the “best of both worlds,” a small college with all the benefits of a bigger school.
“It dilutes the message,” she said. “We have to start qualifying things.
“This is an opportunity for King’s. I really see it that way.”
The liberal arts university has a hardwood court, weight room and a cardio room in a small gym that was universally panned at the meeting as a facility in need of work. Neil Hooper, the school’s athletic director, said the price tag for weight room upgrades is between $60,000 to $70,000. There is no timeline for when that project may begin.
King’s president George Cooper rejected suggestions that the school would be better off improving its own gym, saying the land isn’t available for them to expand it. Instead, he said cooperating with Dal on this undertaking is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
“It’s an inexpensive way of participating in what’s really going to be a ‘knock your eyes out’ facility,” said Cooper.
The interim president warned that withdrawing from the arrangement might hurt the Dal-King’s relationship.
“They’re hoping that we’ll go ahead with them because we’re partners in so many projects.”
If King’s opts out, the university’s students would still have access to the Dal athletic facilities they currently enjoy. Cooper warned this may change in the future, although he added nobody at Dal has ever alluded to the possibility.
Access to the new facility for interested King’s students would then require a membership, just like many other gyms. The estimate for a regular membership stands between $400-$500 for a year.
Dal will still go ahead with the project in either case. The loss of funding would likely affect the blueprint for the new fitness centre.
This building will be located somewhere on Studley campus. Current spots being contemplated include the former location of Memorial Arena, next to the SUB at the corner of LeMarchant Street and University Avenue, or the site of the still-standing Eliza Ritchie residence.
The fitness centre will not replace the Dalplex. It will be considered an add-on.
Like most town hall attendees, King’s soccer player Anders Jorgen did not dispute the benefits of what’s been informally called the ‘South Street fitness centre.’ But he argued students deserve to have a choice.
“I see more harm in students paying for something they never use than students having to pay more for something they want.”