No college student likes to spend more money, but the Board of Regents at the University of New Mexico (UNM) has decided to raise student fees by $50 next year for athletics.
There is no doubt the recent decision by the regents to raise student fees has created some controversy among students. The proposal was brought before the student financial review board, which did not pass it. Then, over Spring Break, the regents went ahead with the plan anyway. Currently, $40.87 of the $579 in student fees is given to athletics.
The original proposal was to include money for both athletics and library resources, but the library was able to find funds from another source without having to raise fees. Then why does athletics need to the university to raise fees?
The answer is football. Until about a week ago, the UNM Athletic Department said the fees were to cover gas and police at sporting events. However, according to Michael Rocca, a member of the UNM Athletics Council, the Athletic Department's deficit was created because of the declining ticket sales in football.
"Now one thing I know for sure is that that money won't be spent on the deficit, it will be spent on operating expenditures," he said. "But, that's one part of the argument that I really don't understand. We're plugging the hole and then we have the deficit still to fill, well at least we are plugging the hole that's left from the deficit. That argument doesn't make much sense to me."
Anthony Santistevan, an Associated Students of UNM (ASUNM) senator, said the regents basically when over the heads of the student government to pass the proposal.
"They did it over Spring Break when no students were here, and they made that decision," he said.
Rocca said there are three types of students who are upset about the fee increase. First, there are those who do not see athletics as something that contributes to the university. Second, there are those who are bothered by the fact that the regents essentially ignored them. Third, there are those who believe that athletics are important, but do not believe the argument that the Athletic Department is making about UNM being comparable to other schools. According to Rocca, the department wants to take football to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) level, which will cost money.
Santistevan said the best way students can voice their feelings on the matter is to go to the Board of Regents.
"It's the right way to do it. You can do protests and things like that but the right way is to get students to actually go to these meetings and give their input and let the Board of Regents know 'I don't feel comfortable raising my student fees by $50 that's just going to go straight to athletics when you have no plan in front of me of where that $50 is going to go,'" he said.
The Board of Regents could not be reached for comment. The next meeting of the Board will be Friday, April 27 at 9 a.m. in the Student Union Building, Ballroom C, according the UNM Board of Regents website.