The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Student rec fees fund campus fitness center

By Alyssa De La O/@alyssadelao24

A fitness center will open as early as March, bringing recreational sports, cardio and strength equipment to Main Campus.

Art Olague, the university’s first recreational sports director hired in January, said vendors will complete renovations in the former cafeteria of the Madla Building before May.

This week local San Antonio vendor, Ariva Contracting, finished the demolition and will start constructing new walls and installing plumbing.

Those services, Olague said, are one of the ways [student] fees are being used,” Olague said, referring to the student-approved recreation fee. “You have to start somewhere,” he said.

In 2012, students opposed a recreational fee of $40 for fall and spring terms, and $20 for summer, which would have brought intramural sports to this campus. Students approved adding the fee in March 2014 through an online survey.

The new fitness center, funded by the recreational fee charged to students since last August, expects to open on March. Photo by Monica Lamadrid
The new fitness center, funded by the recreational fee charged to students since last August, expects to open on March. Photo by Monica Lamadrid

Fewer than 10 percent of students voted in 2012 and 2014. Those who did vote emphasized during campus forums they wanted fee collections allocated for the building of an on-campus fitness gym and an intramural sports program. Administrators met with students on Feb. 18 and 20, 2014 at open forums to determine interest in the fee before moving forward with a vote.

The university charged students a $100 flat rate fee for the fall and spring semesters, and a $50 fee for each summer session starting August 2014. The $100 fee multiplies $10 by 10 credit hours, which is the average number of credit hours taken by students.

Although plans are moving ahead, some students, including SGA president Andres Holliday, say they are frustrated by what he perceives as slow progress. Holliday said he has been trying to enforce the construction of the fitness gym and intramural sports starting at A&M-San Antonio since last semester.

“I’m pushing to get this stuff done. It’s been a little difficult,” Holliday said

A financial breakdown provided by university comptroller Jennifer Skiver shows financial services collected $812,045.60in student fees since August 2014.

Of the collected fees, $244,809.47 went to construction while over $65,000 went toward equipment. The budget also includes $2,698.13 for student wages. Other encumbered funds will go toward salary and benefits, computer equipment, freight and delivery services as well as supplies.

Intramural sports

Olague said future plans for this university’s students to unite with Palo Alto Community College students to create intramural sports teams are on a standstill until students are recruited.

Because A&M-San Antonio serves upper-division students, the population turnover is high, which means there is little memory of the forums or online voting process. Some students are still unaware of the fees.

Senior political science major Juan Alvarado said he didn’t know of either the fee or the plan for A&M-San Antonio’s recreational sports program.

Senior biology major Ashley Rios said she likes the idea of a fee used to fund a sports center and recreational sports, but wanted to learn more.

“It’s good that the university is using [fees] for a good reason,” Rios said. With this new program, “students are not just getting the physical attention they need,” she said, “but also caring for their mental health as well.”

About the Author

Alyssa De La O
Alyssa De La O is a staff reporter for The Mesquite. A graduate of South San High Schoo, she is now pursuing Communications-Journalism bachelor's degree. Alyssa previously attended Palo Alto College, where she received her associate's degree in communications with a focus on radio and T.V. broadcast. She wrote for "The Pulse" at Palo Alto College. She has a passion for sports and Mariachi singing. She hopes to pursue a career in reporting on sports and San Antonio’s culture.

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