Letter to the Editor: Regarding the Student Recreation Center expansion

To the Graduate Student Community,

I’m upset about increased mandatory recreation fees for graduate students, and I think you should be too. As you all likely know, graduate students will be soon expected to pay $149 per quarter in student fees to cover the cost of the Student Recreation Center Expansion. This is in addition to the $59 per quarter we already pay. I am sure you are all aware of the impact that this is going to have on graduate students, but here are some quick stats I calculated regarding this increase in mandatory recreation fees.

With the new increases, over 52 percent of mandatory graduate student fees will be going toward the Recreation Center. Each year, graduate students will pay $624 in recreation fees for only 9 months of access to the Recreation Center facilities. This increase is a nearly 48 percent increase from previous student fees. During the first month of each quarter, about 22 percent of a graduate student’s salary be going toward student fees (based on a Step 2 GSR at 49 percent). Based on the same salary rate, over 5.5 percent of yearly salary (before taxes) will be going toward student fees.

The entire cost of the Rec Center expansion (about $52 million), is being covered by the student fee increases, which will be in place for the next 30 years until the building costs are paid off. This was approved by a student referendum in 2010. In order for it to go to a vote by the student body, the GSA had to approve it, which they did, without making any exceptions for graduate students.

I am not disputing that the school needed this Recreation Center Expansion Project, or the validity of the referendum that brought this about. Student fee increases will always come about through proper channels and procedures, but that does not mean that those impacted should not voice their concerns, or attempt to ameliorate the situation through further action.

I am not suggesting we seek to defund the project, or to allow waivers for the whole student body. I am also not against the Recreation Center (or the expansion for that matter). I just think that these fee increases place an unfair financial burden on UCR graduate students.

Graduate students are an important part of the UCR community. We teach and run lab sections and discussions. We bring large amounts of money into the school through grants. We conduct research and we serve the campus community in a number of offices, organizations and in other roles.

Any mandatory student fee increases are essentially a pay cut for graduate students and TAs who need to live off of their salaries. I think we deserve more respect in this regard, and that we should try to work with the administration and other campus entities to find a solution. I strongly urge you all to voice your concerns as well.

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