In a report released Feb. 2, the athletics subcommittee of the Organizational Review Committee proposed a new $65 recreation fee that would be implemented for the 2010-11 school year and would apply to all undergraduate and medical school students.
The money will go toward the Department of Athletics and the upkeep of University gyms, said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services.
"The way the committee was thinking about this was in terms of the opportunities available to all students to participate in a recreational activity," Klawunn said. "We were looking at what other schools charged, and others are charging considerably more than this."
The athletics subcommittee was one of 12 teams charged last spring with finding ways to eliminate $14 million from the University budget — and the only one that did not meet its savings goal, according to the ORC report.
The subcommittee dedicated to reviewing the Department of Athletics called its current varsity program unsustainable and recommended a closer look at the program "to determine the proper size and scope" that would "provide a stronger experience for student athletes."
In addition to reducing operating expenses and administration and staff expenditures, the team recommended increasing revenue by introducing a recreation fee for students beginning next year and annual recreation fees for faculty and staff after the new aquatics and fitness centers open in 2012.
"The athletics team reviewed the department, and they saw that the varsity situation was problematic," said Sarah Rutherford '12, the only undergraduate representative on the committee. "We have the third-largest number of varsity teams amongst our peers, with the smallest budget for staff and other things."
"But the fee is not just supposed to be a Band-Aid to cover the over-extension of varsity sports," Rutherford said.
The ORC intends to revisit the question, in hopes of coming to a more permanent decision about the athletics department.
"The fee was better than a rash decision," Rutherford said, "though we will need to make tough decisions in the future."
Despite the University's financial situation, Klawunn confirmed there would not be any other new fees for the next school year.
"We tried really hard to make sure that the student experience was not impacted," Rutherford said.