Tempers flare over athletics fees

J. Fred Fox | reporter

Athletic fee increases were rejected Wednesday night, at least for now, as Student Government Association (SGA) prepares for elections and the end of the year.
Lara Ismert, SGA president, Christian Cruz, SGA legislative affairs director, and Sen. Austin Osborn, all members of the Athletics Fee Council, debated how much to increase athletic fees.
They submitted a resolution to increase fees by $6, per the recommendation of the Athletics Fee Council.
“I talked to about 50-75 students about Athletics Fee Council,” Osborn said, “and based on my reasoning, the majority thought that in the grand scheme of things (the increase) is not that overwhelming for what the university is needing.”
Senators debated the proposed resolution for two hours, considering different increase amounts of $3, $4, and back to the original $6.
The original resolution, which asked for a $6 increase, was defeated without even a simple majority. Fee increase resolutions require a two-thirds majority.
“I tracked down 50 students to talk to … about the athletics fee recommendation, explaining that it would go to jerseys and travel and food,” said Sen. Mike Berry, “but as soon as I mentioned the $6 increase, most flat out said no fee increases. One student recommended he was willing to pay a small fee for tickets as apposed to a fee increase.”
SGA considered not submitting any recommendation to Steve Scott, university president, but ultimately, a new resolution asking for the same $6 increase was introduced and will be voted on again next week.
“My name is on that recommendation,” Osborn said, addressing Ismert. “The fact is that (deciding the increase) was the task you (Ismert) were charged with when you signed up to be on that committee.
“So, if you’re saying that you were intimidated to propose a $3 increase by the people in the room, then you’re not doing your job as a student senator, because you are a representative on that committee…
“I didn’t even vote on it (in committee) and I just went along with it.”
Osborn discussed worries of having his name on the resolution that the committee ended up wanting to change.
He says he was unable to vote on any committee recommendation. It however he did propose an $8 increase, before leaving the meeting for a class.
“I never felt I got any concrete evidence on what increases would look like,” Ismert said. “I thought the $6 increase was pretty arbitrary, but our committee voted on that, and that’s what we decided.”
Larry Overman, the sole student to speak during student opinion time, brought another petition of 800 signatures asking not to increase student fees.
The parking fee increase of $2 was passed with relative ease.
After the debate, Tyler Edwards, SGA campus affairs director, submitted a resolution asking for Campus Capital Improvement money to be spent on bikes for Campus Christians and the Bike-to-Campus Day event.
Treasurer Ethan Scott presented a resolution with results of the SGA allocations process. The final vote to approve the spending of SGA’s allocations money is next week.

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