UCSB’s athletics experienced a blistering defeat last week on the electoral playing field.
Several programs were seeking new fees to support recreational and varsity athletics. None of the fees were approved by voters in last week’s campuswide election, despite a high turnout that meant a lower percentage of voters were needed to approve fee increases. The 33.6 percent voter turnout, well over the five-year average of 28.07 percent, meant that only one voter more than 50 percent of the turnout was required to pass a measure, as opposed to the two-thirds of voters who need to approve at a minimum voter turnout of 20 percent.
While none of the athletics fees measures received more than a 40 percent “yes” vote, voters did approve new fees for the Office of Student Life and Arts & Lectures, and nearly 84 percent of voters were in favor of continuing to support the Shoreline Preservation Fund with $3 per quarter.
The Aquatic Facility Fee initiative failed, gaining only 37.15 percent of the vote. The initiative asked for $6.95 per undergraduate student per quarter, including Summer Quarter, to pay for the construction and maintenance of a National Collegiate Athletic Association standard pool for the Athletics Dept. Campus Pool, the only pool available to the Athletics Dept., does not currently meet NCAA regulations for water polo. The fee would have given the Athletics Dept. about $450,000 each year for the pool.
“I think a lot of the facilities at UCSB need to be upgraded and I don’t know any other way that it would come about,” said Greg Wilson, UCSB men’s and women’s swimming coach.
The $9.98 Athletic Scholarship Fee Augmentation initiative also failed, getting only 30.06 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage of any initiative on the ballot. Students already pay $9 each quarter to fund the education of UCSB’s athletes, and this initiative would have raised that to $18.98 per undergraduate student per quarter, giving the Athletics Dept. about $1,250,000 to fund scholarships each year. It currently receives about $600,000 from students each year to do so.
“I’m disappointed, naturally. We had hoped that the athletic initiatives for the scholarships, the [financial] grants and aid, for the athletics and the aquatic facility would pass,” Wilson said. “You just can’t argue with the student vote. It’s unfortunate; I think that UCSB is poised for some great things.”
Wilson said the failure of the lock-in fee will hurt athlete recruitment at UCSB since several other schools in the Big West Conference and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the two leagues UCSB belongs to, have recently passed student fees to fund more athletic scholarships.
Recreational sports also lost out on student money. The UCSB Rowing initiative failed with only 40.4 percent of the vote. The initiative, which asked for $0.50 per undergraduate student per quarter, including summer, would have helped fund UCSB’s club rowing teams’ year-round activities by providing about $73,000 each year to fund the renovation, maintenance and replacement of rowing team equipment. The team’s current budget is about $40,061.
“In a way I’m not surprised that it didn’t pass,” said Jordan Fong, men’s varsity rowing captain and 4th-year art studio major. “It’s difficult to pass anything through the student body that doesn’t directly affect them.”
The Recreational Field Improvement Project initiative also failed with only 40.31 percent of the vote. For $7.11 per student per quarter, including Summer Quarter, the fee would have provided about $475,000 each year for the installation and maintenance of synthetic grass for Rob Field, the Lacrosse Pit and other recreational fields.
Initiatives that passed included funding for the arts and leadership training.
The Student Life Program Fee passed with 52.35 percent of the vote. The $1.75 per undergraduate student per quarter fee, decreased to $1 per undergraduate student for Summer Quarter, will fund student leadership programs, education opportunities, student-initiated social events and first-year student programs.
“I think it’s wonderful for students’ ability to keep several programs that help them develop into better leaders,” said Britt Andreatta, director of first-year programs and leadership education for the Office of Student Life. “They realize that with the budget cuts, some of these programs would be lost, and they chose to not only keep them for themselves, but for the future generation of students to follow them.”
The funds generated from the lock-in fee can also go to help alleviate the budget crunch that Associated Students is facing, with the creation of a student committee to oversee dispersion of funds, Andreatta said.
The Arts & Lectures Support Fee initiative also passed with 69.98 percent of the vote. The fee of $2 per undergraduate student per quarter, including Summer Quarter, will begin Fall 2003. It will give Arts & Lectures about $133,000 each year to pay for the continuation of Arts & Lectures programs and student discounts.
Both reaffirmations on the ballot passed by a large margin.
The Events Center Support Fee of $4 per student per quarter was reaffirmed by 61.76 percent of students. The fee will continue to fund the maintenance and improvement costs of the Events Center. The Shoreline Initiative was also reaffirmed by 83.96 percent of voters. The $3 per student per quarter fee will allow Shoreline Preservation Fund to continue to help preserve the three miles of shoreline adjacent to UCSB.