Recreation and Athletic Fee Reinstated

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New fees on the rise. Ethan Butterfield

Adding to the finances

On Tuesday, November 3, University of Regina students received an email from Harold Riemer the Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies. The email informed students that the previously waved $98.00 Recreation and Athletic Fee will appear on student accounts again in the new year.

The email reads, “The flat fee will begin appearing on student accounts on November 5 and will be applied to all students registered for one or more courses in Winter 2021 (remote or in person) designated as “on campus.” Exemptions will apply only to those students who are exclusively taking courses designated as ‘off campus.’”

Many students are quite upset with the reinstatement of these fees and the conditions for exemptions as all classes are online and most students do not have access to the Recreation and Athletic facilities on campus. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on most people, businesses, etc. but many U of R students feel as though the University has not done enough to support them financially through this time.

“I do not feel that the U of R has done enough to support their students financially throughout the pandemic,” said Averie Sawchuk, a third year Education student, expresses her frustration with the lack of financial support provided by University of Regina administration.

“With the announcement of athletic fees being announced for the winter semester, it just goes to show that the status of the university matters more than the financial and mental well-being of the students,” said Sawchuk who used to occasionally use the Fitness Centre on campus, but due to COVID-19, she has not been to the gym on campus since March 2020.

Many students do not feel as though they have had their voices heard by the University’s administration, and therefore are not having their needs met. Some students feel taken advantage of because they are not given a choice to pay fees or not – meaning the University has full power over students’ bank accounts and financial well-being.

Avery McMartin, a second year Faculty of Arts student, used the Fitness Centre very often when classes were on campus; “I am very upset and do feel used. They know we don’t have any option but to pay the fee if it is given to us.”

“I understand that the university still has expenses they need to pay for, but I don’t think they have done enough to support us financially. I think they should lower expenses since we are not able to use all of the facilities that are normally provided,” said McMartin.

Many students are experiencing a vast number of unique challenges during this time and the support of the administration would be greatly appreciated – yet is minimally received [by students].

“I don’t think it’s fair or justified for them to be charging an athletic fee for this 2021 winter semester,” said Taylor Swenson. Swenson is a second-year student in the Faculty of Science. She is a business owner and mother, as well as a full-time student, making it very frustrating that the university is forcing fees that students are not receiving services for.

“A vast majority of the students who are attending the U of R currently are not living in Regina due to the pandemic and classes being online so they would not have any way to access this service. Not to mention, since the athletic facilities have been closed for so long many students now have gym memberships elsewhere and are now locked into a contract with those gyms. Reinstating the athletic fee and reopening the athletic facility makes absolutely zero sense and it really shows how little the university actually listens to the student body,” said Swenson.

Amir Said, URSU Vice President of External Affairs, reached out to Dr. Riemer to discuss student concerns. The response received very clearly identified that the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies was not willing to change their stance regarding the reinstatement of Recreation and Athletic Fees for [all] students.

A statement from Said reads: “When I received Dr. Riemer’s email about the re-opening of the athletic facilities on campus, I was thrilled, as I am regularly on campus and will definitely be attending them. However, upon reading further, I realized that this was in fact not good news. The $98 Recreation & Athletic Fee is being charged to all students except for those whose classes are listed as being ‘off-campus’. This is an incredibly inaccurate system, as I personally have classes that are listed as being in-class but are in fact entirely virtual and asynchronous. Students in other cities, provinces, or even countries all take classes that are classified as being in-class, even though they are entirely virtual, and as a result they are going to be charged this fee that they have no use for. They stated in their email to the student body that the decision was made largely to recoup their $1.2 million shortfall, yet regardless of this, it is incredibly unfair to charge students for a service they cannot and will not use. Students in Alberta or in China can’t be expected to fly out to Regina every time they want to go to the gym! The fact of the matter is that it is incredibly unfair to force students to waste their money and not allow those who should not be paying the fee any way to opt out. Many students do not have the means to pay that $98, especially with the shortage of jobs now as a result of the pandemic. Students already struggle enough financially as it is, so they should not have an additional fee tacked onto that if they have no need or use for it. In conclusion, there needs to be an opt-out system in place so that students that are willing to come on campus to work out can do so, while those that are unable to come on campus can save themselves that money instead of being forced to pay it. Students should not have to pay for a gym membership they are unable to use.”

If you have any concerns that you want expressed, please reach out to Amir Said: vpext@ursu.ca | +1 (306) 586-8811 ext. 235

Reese Estwick

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