By Michael Peters
Students and university President Maria Hernandez Ferrier voiced support Tuesday for a recreational sports fee during the first of two forums. The event gave students the opportunity to voice input for the first time since a failed vote in 2012.
The next forum is scheduled for 3 p.m. today in Room 204/207 of the Main Campus Building.
Following a powerpoint presentation of what the fee can fund, administrators listened to student feedback, moving a step closer to offering sports programs.
About 35 students, both traditional and nontraditional, attended the event hosted by the Student Government Association at Brooks City-Base Campus.
Five administrators were in attendance to answer questions and concerns. Administrators included Melissa Mahan, vice president for student affairs; Provost Brent Snow; Marilu Reyna, associate vice president for institutional advancement and university communications; Rick Trefzer, assistant vice president for technology and auxiliary services; and Charles Rodriguez, vice president of strategic initiatives and military affairs.
If approved by students, implementation of a recreational sports fee could pay for staffing, student workers, programming, equipment needed for sports and fitness, a walking trail, intramural sports and fitness classes.
A majority of students must vote in support of the fee in March before a fee can be enacted by the Texas A&M System Board of Regents. If approved, students would begin paying the fee in Fall 2014.
Administration proposed a fee of $7 or $10 per credit hour for a maximum of 15 credit hours. The figures are preliminary and subject to change depending on student feedback, Mahan said.
Even if the recreational sports fee is approved, a recreational center on campus would not immediately be available for sports programming.
Mahan said a recreational center requires a higher fee while programming costs less.
“I think a building is a little bit down the road,” she said. “It takes a lot of money to do a building but we could start at the beginning with some programming and getting intramural sports going.”
In the meantime, Mahan said when the Central Academic Building opens over the summer, Main Campus may have space to hold a small fitness center and sports equipment.
Available sports would depend on student feedback through forums and surveys conducted by SGA and administrators, she said.
Students wondered if it was possible to join a partnership with Palo Alto College to use their fields and facilities.
Cheryl Le Gras, director of student activities, addressed the question. She explained A&M-San Antonio’s sports teams would join established programs at Palo Alto.
A&M-San Antonio would fund any fees involved with a potential memorandum of understanding with Palo Alto, such as hiring referees, Mahan said.
She added that a recreational sports fee does not impact the potential partnership with Palo Alto; the fee would allow A&M-San Antonio to eventually bring programs to the university so teams would not have to play at Palo Alto.
Students voiced concern for contributing toward a center they would not use.
Mahan said administration may consider allowing alumni who contributed to the fee to use the recreational center.
Ferrier said she supports a recreational center and sports programming during her introductory remarks. She said students have asked for sports ever since the university was at Gillette Campus, the building where classes were held prior to the opening of Main Campus.
She noted some A&M-San Antonio students made shirts with the slogan “Jaggies for Roadrunners” when UTSA launched its football program.
“But one day, it’s going to be Jaggies versus Roadrunners and you guys are going to be amazing,” Ferrier said.