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The OC Rec Center Discussion Thread

The Student Recreation Center (SRC) and its chronic budget woes have become one of the most pressing issues facing the ASUO, and was the subject of a feature in the Winter Issue of the Commentator. In order to get raise more awareness about the issue, I have asked Student Recreation Center Advisory Council Chairman Richard Pryor to write up some thoughts for this blog. Students will face a referendum on this issue in the coming election, and so I hope this thread will help answer questions about the problem and the possible solutions.

So, here’s the current situation in a nutshell:

There are essentially two potential futures for the beleaguered Rec Center that are currently being evaluated. Solution one sees the Rec center remain a part of the incidental fee and remain on the budget books of the Programs Finance Committee (what we currently have). Solution two sees the rec center move away from the incidental fee, expand the current “Rec Fee” to incorporate the cost of operating at current service level, and have this fee be evaluated by a new fee committee that has only a modicum of involvement with the ASUO, most likely in the form of Exec and Senate appointed members of this committee.

Here’s the projected outcome of these two solutions. The situation that the rec is currently in is the result of the 7% increase cap instituted by the pfc. Because of this cap, the rec center has not been able to keep up with rising costs that come as a result of OUS mandated expenditures. To simplify that, these expenditures are costs that the state says the rec center has to make, or else…In reality, the or else is that they will take control of the rec center away from the UofO entirely, meaning no one, not the senate, not the administration, no one is in control. From there it would be easy for them to decide the rec center is not a cost effective auxiliary on campus and close its doors entirely. Freaky shit.

If the rec center were to remain on the I-fee, it would continually face the 7% cap, as well as be put at the mercy of the “fiscally responsible” PFC where there budget would continue to grow much slower than needs would. Essentially, the rec center would rot and die, never receiving the funding it needs to stabilize or even operate and services would be cut one at a time until there is nothing left for students to do there when they walk in the doors.

Solution two would see the rec center becoming autonomous on this campus with a fee that is regulated by a group of students not of the senate. As a result of this, the I-fee would shrink by 1,000,000+ dollars and it would no longer have to keep going up to meet the costs the rec center needs to remain stable. The Rec Fee would grow large enough to support the operating costs of the SRC and Rec sports, which, let’s face it, needs to stay with its parent organization of PARS.

Once the rec fee reached a point where it could fund those groups at current service level, it would only increase as needed to maintain those current services. Or, let’s say the student fee committee decided they wanted to see the SRC to get creative with their budget, propose a decrease. Stranger things have happened. This budget that is evaluated by the fee committee would be submitted to the VP for Student Affairs who would then give it to Frohnmayer for approval. STUDENTS WOULD STILL HOLD VETO POWER!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s my observation of why the senate is reluctant to go for Solution 2. They think that students who are not senators will not be able to responsibly allocate a fee of student dollars, and the result will be an SRC budget that doubles and then triples in subsequent years. Why might they think this? A couple of reasons. First of all, as was pointed out by senator Justice, “The rec center has never spent within their allocated budget”. The natural question that results from that is “What does the rec centers spending habits have to do with whether or not students can responsibly manage a fee of student dollars?” That question not withstanding, here’s the reason WHY the rec center has never spent within it’s allocated budget: The PFC has only ever allocated the rec center enough dollars to barely cover the cost of operations, not to the money needed to cover the cost of those pesky OUS mandated expenditures. In essence, they have only ever allocated the rec center just enough money to get shut down by the OUS. Bummer.

Another reason why a separate group cannot be trusted to spend responsibly comes from Senator Ebner, “The rec center’s budget will grow way too fast if there aren’t safeguards put in place to keep the growth rate low”(The quote is from memory and might not be 100% historically accurate. Tough shit). Well, too speak to this, one need look no further than our friendly neighborhood University Health Center. The SHAC, a group of students, allocate a fee to the health center and last I looked, aint no senators on that board. Yet, for some strange reason, the health center’s budget has not doubled and tripled, or grown exponentially over the years. What? Oh no, responsible spending!! And without the senate?!?!?! Just what is happening on this campus?!?!?!

I digress. The point is, there is clear evidence that students outside the senate are capable of managing an institutional fee, and that is evidence that the senate can ignore for only so long.

So, what then does it boil down to? The answer comes from an overpowering number of senators, and it sounds a little like this, “Once we give away control of the rec center, we don’t know what will happen…”. And therein lies the issue at heart, control. Can the ASUO senate turn control of a million dollar budget over to another group of students? That we don’t know. The issue of trusting other students has been put on the table in no less than two subsequent senate meetings and has failed to garner a vocal rebuttal from the senators. Do they truly believe that they are the only fiscally responsible students on campus? Only time will tell.

For more information or specific dates and bill numbers, feel free to leave a post and I’ll drop some more factoids on this blog.

By: Richard Pryor

  1. The Student says:

    “Students should what they are paying for, why they are paying for, and should be compliant of those things. We do not want to force anything on the student body.”….wow, thats deep. Can anyone tell me why we are listening to the wisdom of Dick Pryor?

  2. Ricky says:

    That’s a fair concern, and since governing boards change from year to year, I have no way of giving you a 100% assurance that phase III will not be considered by the SRCAB. However, we have done our best to ensure that the mission statement of this envisioned board would first and foremost be to maintain CSL with the rec center only. Anything else that is deemed to be a “need” of the rec center should first be suggested via a campus-wide survey system or referendum. Students should what they are paying for, why they are paying for, and should be compliant of those things. We do not want to force anything on the student body.

  3. Jacque says:

    Ditto. Seriously. Ditto everything you just said.

  4. Niedermeyer says:

    The whole situation depends on PARS being honest about what the center will really cost. The UO/OSU comparison that PARS is constantly trumpeting suggests that they could easily justify significantly higher costs (to themselves anyway). The most important thing is that they be given the flexibility to get the budget to a sustainable level, after which they MUST keep the budget as stable as possible. I can’t help being convinced though, that as soon as we achieve that stability, PARS will push hard for the Phase III expansion, at which point we’ll start this whole damn merry-go-round again.

  5. Jacque says:

    Student- You make a very VERY good point and, in my opinion, this highlights that the problem is not really the I-Fee (aside from the procedural aspects that lead to the inability to make accurate projections, and place caps) but rather the problem comes from (a) the inabiity of departments to stay IN budget (b) the lack of any control mechanisms (c) the lack of transparency that occurs both in and outside of the incidental fee. And I guess that it is for this reason that I am simply skeptical of moving the Rec center off of the incidental fee, I just am not 100% sure that it is going to make that much of a difference in the main issue here: a 1 million dollar program being in deficit for the last three years. However, I think that a specific committee devoted solely to the budgetary woes of the rec center might be a good step, and I don’t really have a problem with moving it off of the i-fee I question whether it will solve the problem…

  6. A Student says:

    I did a little bit of research on the SHAC, as I have seen that people have been saying they want to model the SRC Advisory Board on that. Turns out, the increases in the Health Service Fee (which is really two fees, a health center fee with the SHAC sets, and a Counseling Center fee) have been roughly the same average increase in the past three biennia as the incidental fee (The Heath Service fee’s average increase per year is 5.02% and the incidental fee average increase is 5.35%). In addition, according to the May 26, 2006 SHAC minutes, even the Health Center is in deficit, and is only staying afloat by its carry forward balance…
    Don’t know if this changes much, but I thought I would provide it as a basis for consideration, as the conversation seems to be saying that the Rec would be like the SHAC. I found my info at the OUS website ( and the Health Center website (

  7. Niedermeyer says:

    Ricky: A good point, but I feel obligated to point out that the starting point for the entire I-Fee budget is guesswork: it’s called a benchmark.

  8. Ricky says:

    It’s true that a fee is a fee is a fee. However, the question becomes, how much of a fee and a fee and a fee should students pay. One of the things that goes oft unmentioned in these debates that we have really tried to touch upon is the timeline that the PFC is required to adhere to. They require budgets to be decided in winter term, with projections submitted long before then. That means the rec center has less than two months of actual operation time done with in order to project what the rest of the year will be like fiscally. This means that the bulk of their budget has to be educated guesswork. While the rec center representatives and leaders are quite adroit when it comes to educated guesswork, however, no amount of conjecture is equal to having the numbers hard and fast to look at. I’m not saying that this is the PFC’s fault, the layers of beauracracy that the budgets have to pass through demands this timeline. However, at the cost of 1,000,000+ student dollars, we feel that educated guess work is not good enough.

  9. Doomscheissah says:

    We love Jacque. She actually takes invites to go out drinking seriously. And she actually has fun doing it. (Next week? Same bat time same bat channel?)

  10. Jacque says:

    Betz you are right when you say that the problem arises from not enough students being educated and aware of what’s going on on campus and turning out to vote so how can we fix this… I think that as a governing body we get so focused on big picture that it does eventually evolve into this self-interested, authoritative thing that noone likes and don’t focus on just getting the average student involved, but also if students really wanted to know what was giong on, they would pick up a school publication, they would come into the ASUO office and talk to people (I mean I’m a bitch sometimes but I’m not THAT bad, I promise)… you know what I mean? So I think that the need to get involved needs to come from somewhere else in addition to the voice of the ASUO…

  11. Betz says:


  12. Timothy says:

    I bet SHAC makes more freethrows than Shaq.

  13. Niedermeyer says:

    Maybe the Student Health Center Advisory Council (SHAC) has a mechanism in place. I think that everyone realizes that fixing the SRC will be initially expensive, but if annual increases stay below 5%, it will have been worth it. How this would be “enforced” is a question not easily answered. The PARS always has a reason for avoiding fees or cuts, so we have no choice but to fork over a bunch of cash.

  14. Jacque says:

    Oh well I guess Richard wrote the post so that comment was directed at him (the little punk!) 😉

  15. Jacque says:

    Why do you always misinterpret what I say??? LOL just kidding to clarify my point is not: they spend outside of their budget therefore, we should keep control. but just to point out that moving control does not necessarily gurantee fiscal responsibility, therefore WHAT mechanisms are we going to put in place to make sure that they do spend within their budget? Do I think another committee might be better equiped to handle it yes of course. but a fee is a fee is a fee so really incidental or not, students are paying for it: that million+ dollars is comming from somewhere. the problem with it comming out of the I-fee is like you said- the 7% cap, so yea the logical conclusion might be to remove it from there… To me the question is what happens when the mandates are met and their operational budget is stablized? they should be able to run at less than a 7% increase every year therefore I think you MIGHT be able to solve the problem by evaluating their mandates seperately, thus negating the need for a new committee and more bureaucracy. I also want to note that it was really great to see certain candidates take an interest in the Rec Center Budget, and have them attend their first ever ad hoc committee meeting because it is something that is important to all students in some way or another… 🙂

  16. Niedermeyer says:

    Please do. I actually write this all in aramaic, and babelfish doesn’t do a great job with punctuation. I hear apostrophe’s are particuarly hard to translate.

    I’d say that opposition to taking the SRC off the I-Fee is evaporating, and rightly so. The PFC doesn’t currently have control over the SRC budget, and past attempts to do so have made the problem worse (with a little help from PARS, who just happily ate away it’s reserve). As Richard mentions, the Health Center is a pretty good analogy, and proves the point that *gasp* decentralizing campus governance might not be a horrible thing.

  17. Timothy says:

    It’s more funny-sad than funny-haha. Oh, and I hope you don’t mind that I added some paragraph breaks to that post.

  18. Niedermeyer says:

    It’s funny and it’s true. Election season makes everyone scramble for the opposite end of the political spectrum. The “fiscal conservatives” run away from the 2.5% benchmark, and the programs crowd takes up “the good fight” by holding up the PFC as the scions of “fiscal responsibility.” Laughable stuff, really.

  19. Timothy says:

    Do they truly believe that they are the only fiscally responsible students on campus?

    That’s one of the lies they tell themselves in order to sleep soundly at night.

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