Officials Plan Ahead for Expiration of RSF Fees, Expansion of Facility

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With two student fees that fund UC Berkeley's Recreational Sports Facility set to expire in five years, student government officials are working to devise a plan to maintain funding for the facility as well as to raise money to further expand upon the RSF's limited space.

Currently, all students pay two RSF fees at the beginning of each semester under the category of "campus fees," which consist of a $45 recreational sports fee and a $28.50 intramural sports facility fee. In addition, a $10 membership charge is required for use of the facilities - totaling $83.50 for those who pay for membership. But both fees are set to expire in 2016, leaving the future fee and funding for the RSF unknown.

Graduate Assembly President Miguel Daal said the fact that both fees will expire simultaneously is significant because campus fee money satisfies a large source of income for the Recreational Sports Department. He said that the ASUC and the department will have to decide either to increase student campus fees or to increase their membership fee in order to maintain RSF operations.

If the current fee is not extended, Stern said membership in the future could cost between $100 and $150, but students would no longer be required to pay the campus fee.

ASUC President Noah Stern proposed an idea at last Wednesday's ASUC Senate meeting to expand the facility - which could happen as early as next year - using an additional fee that will cover construction costs for an RSF expansion project, which he said is necessitated by the campus's current lack of recreational sports space.

"There has been a lot of controversy about increased fees because we just passed the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative," said ASUC Executive Vice President Nanxi Liu. "Students may say that they are paying these fees for a new (recreational) center that they will not even get to use before they graduate."

Initial ideas for expansion include expanding the western side of the RSF, adding additional space to Hearst Gym and moving into what is currently the Berkeley Art Museum, after a new museum is constructed in the Downtown area.

"If the financial model for the new fee shows that there is capacity to also fund new facilities, that would be a great thing to do," said Mike Weinberger, campus director of recreational sports, in an e-mail. "The RSF is 26 years old and student demand has grown tremendously since it was built."

According to Daal, an independent consultant hired by the Recreational Sports Department found that the campus's recreational sports facilities were far below the average size of other colleges across the country. Stern said the campus only has about 30 percent of the recreational sports space that other campuses have.

Stern said he is working on forming a committee and hiring a coordinator, which he said will be crucial for stimulating ideas and accurately gauging the interests of the student body. If the committee finds significant student interest in expanding space, Daal said an initiative will be written to appear on the ASUC election ballot in April 2012.

Student Action Senator Farrah Moos said that even if this initiative does not pass, simply putting it on the ballot will raise student awareness of the somewhat "hidden fee" they are already paying for the RSF in addition to the $10 membership fee.

Weinberger said in an e-mail that whether the current membership fee continues depends on how the new fee is designed, which will require student input.

"Expanding the RSF is one option, but other options will be explored as well," Weinberger said in the e-mail. "That planning process is just getting underway."


Contact Jasmine Mausner at [email protected]

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