Published in the Criterion April 21, 2014.
Vice President for Student Services John Marshall addressed the Associated Student Government at the general assembly meeting last Wednesday on a proposed increase of student fees to fund an expansion to the existing Maverick Center.
The proposed expansions will nearly double the size of the recreation center, which includes the Hamilton Recreation Center, El Pomar Natatorium and the Saunders Field House over two planned phases of construction.
"We are underfunding the operations currently, and the physical capacity of it is undersized," Marshall said.
The first half of the renovations, expected to be completed this fall, will renovate the existing recreational facilities in the Maverick Center and complete the first half of the new expansion where the Maverick Pavilion currently resides, which will include expanded exercise equipment and group fitness areas. The second half of recreation areas should be completed around January 2015 and will include more courts and the climbing wall.
Further additions to the building — expanding field house facilities, will be funded at a later date.
CMU has had the lowest increase in student fees in the state of Colorado every year for the last three years. Marshall attributed this to conservatory budget practices and effective cooperation between ASG and CMU administration. Though as usage of the facility continues to increase with a growing student population, "We're pushing some of these resources," Marshall said.
The increase, which will amount to an additional $1.49 per credit hour in student fees, will be used to staff the new facility and "backfill" the costs of maintaining the thinly stretched facility over the last few years.
Citing the revenue generated by community use of the University Center ballroom, "Those dollars help prevent general fund dollars from coming into this building," Marshall said.
Marshall noted that the Maverick Center used to be host to various external community activities, which have since diminished due to a priority given to use by students who fund the facility. Marshall says this is "a good problem to have, but it has cut off a revenue stream."
In summation, "The $1.49 helps us backfill some of those old revenues that we were able to get from outside sources. It helps us backfill those general fund dollars, and it's going to help us fund the new facility once it's got its doors open," Marshall said."Our board of trustees has the final say in this. What we're doing is we've gone through a very deliberate process and we're recommending [a] 5.8 percent [increase] on tuition, another 5.8 percent on fees."
The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has asked schools to limit tuition increases to 6 percent.
"We're the lowest fee in Colorado before this increase, and we're going to remain the lowest after," CMU President Tim Foster said last Monday.
Foster notes that the conjunctive increase of tuition with student fees is unique to CMU.
"I think you've always got to say tuition and fees in the same sentence. Some people say fees, some people say tuition. I think that generally means you're trying to leave one off the table," Foster said. "The legislative limitation is on tuition and tuition only."
Foster says that other schools in Colorado have raised student fees to compensate for not being able to raise tuition enough to procure adequate funding.
"That's how institutions play the game," Foster said.
Both Marshall and Foster are confident in the recommendations being made to the Board of Trustees.
"I can't think of a time where the board has said, 'No, we're not doing that,'" Marshall said Monday on past recommendations for student fee increases from both CMU administration and ASG.
"We're building a bigger car for the students to drive, but the student fee is going to have to put more gas in it," Marshall said.