Midterm Part IV: University of Oregon Wants to Increase Student Fees Again

More renovations means higher fees for U of O students

Main entrance to the Student Rec Center Photo: Max O'Neil

Main entrance to the Student Rec Center
Photo: Max O’Neil

Renovations to the EMU will be complete by summer 2016

Renovations to the EMU will be complete by summer 2016 Photo: Creative Commons

By Max O’Neil

EUGENE, Ore. – When University of Oregon students heard their fees would be increasing by over $300 per year to fund renovations to two vital campus buildings, they expressed mixed feelings.

Starting in the fall of 2013, the University will be asking students to pay an additional $105 per term in fees for the renovations to the Student Recreation Center and EMU. From the new $105 increase, $38 will go to the Rec Center and the other $67 to the EMU according to Robin Holmes, Vice President of Student Affairs. Recent elections by the student body approved both projects.

Wilkins Kato, a Rec Center employee, said there are necessary improvements that need to be made in order to better accommodate student needs and the rise in enrollment. According to statistics from the University of Oregon’s Office of the Registrar, enrollment has increased by over 3,000 in the past five years. In the fall of 2008, total enrollment at the university was 21,507 with 17,268 declared full time students. In fall of 2012, enrollment was 24,591 with 21,917 declared full time students. In addition since fall of 2008, the number of out-of-state residents has increased by nearly 10 percent.

Kato has seen first-hand how unhappy students are with how things are currently being run at the Rec Center. And with renovations expected to occur over the next two years, not all current students will be able to experience the benefits. “There were people in the position before us who paid for the renovations that exist now,” said Kato. “They pay for stuff they’re not going to use. But that’s just the way it works.”

Senior Natalie Dyer is employed at Mangiamo, a café on the main level of the EMU. And while she spends much of her time working and in the EMU, she is not overly concerned with the increase in fees. “I’m against it (raising fees) fundamentally, but I’m a senior and my parents pay my tuition so it doesn’t have a huge effect on me,” she said.

According to the expansion project’s website the Rec Center will have a new 12 lane swimming pool, additional weight room space, and a three-court gymnasium once the renovations are completed. The EMU will be 20 percent larger in size featuring larger lounges and study spaces along with a new multipurpose theater and conference facilities.

“I understand why they’re doing it. The buildings are really old and need to be renovated. But I do think that’s a little high,” said senior Nicholas Hadley, who frequently spends time at the EMU when on campus. There are certain parts of the EMU Hadley would like to see renovated more than others. “Some of the pipes are being held together with duct tape, so that’s not good. And I’d like to see the courtyard get better,” he added.

Freshman and Oregon resident Chris Parrott thinks raising fees is never a good thing for students or their parents. “I use both a lot and I don’t see the need for renovations unless there are structural issues,” Parrott said.

Data from the Oregon University System shows that the University’s incidental fee rose by 7.9 percent last year and is expected to rise by an additional four to five percent by next fall. Furthermore, tuition for full time Oregon residents last year was $9,291. The fee increase by the State Board of Higher Education would see that number climb to $9,852. According to multiple reports by the Register Guard and The Associated Press this would more than double the cost of tuition for Oregon residents a decade ago.

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