Should the Rec Center charge a summer fee for students not taking classes?


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The e-mail was frustrating at first — $55 to use the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center over the summer for students who aren’t taking summer classes?

But on further reflection, it makes sense. Students who are registered for summer classes have the $55 rolled into their summer fees; because most University of Iowa students don’t stick around during the summer, it makes sense to only charge those who will be here for the service.

By that logic, of course, one could conclude that only those who use the new rec center ought to be charged for its maintenance. But it’s a matter of degree — realistically, the center can’t be supported solely by those who use it. There are some things for which use-dependent fees are appropriate, and others for which across-the-board fees are necessary. Much like roads and other public goods, the rec center falls into this latter group; UI officials have decided that its mere existence benefits the university through attracting greater numbers of students.

However one feels about universities’ escalating competition for superior athletics facilities (I know I’d rather see a wider variety of classes and TA positions for master’s students in all departments), the rec facility relies on blanket fees.

So why should the summer session be different? Unlike during the school year, most UI students aren’t in Iowa City to take advantage of the rec center. Barring severe injury or illness (regrettable but rare), students in the spring and fall semesters have the option of using the rec center; if they don’t take advantage of it, they’re to blame.

Different factors come into play in the summer. Many students can’t afford to live in Iowa City over the summer — far more than can’t afford the $55 fee — and return to stay with their parents. Many students get jobs in their hometowns or land internships in more prestigious towns, and staying here simply isn’t an option. For everyone to pay the $55 fee ignores the reality: Most UI students leave during the summer for very good reasons. It’s simply sensible to ask students who don’t pay the $55 as part of their student fees to chip it in; it’s still cheaper than private gyms.

If the fee is prohibitive, summertime residents can always do what our ancestors have done: Run outside.

— Shay O’Reilly


There’s a new advantage to spending summer in Iowa City this year: the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

Instead of jogging under the hot July sun, students can run on state-of-the-art treadmills overlooking the Iowa River and Main Library while enjoying the air-conditioning. But there’s a catch: Students have to pay $55 by June 14 in order to use these services if they aren’t registered for summer courses.

This fee is absurd — many students stay in Iowa City but don’t take summer courses because of internships, tackling two or even three jobs to pay for tuition, and participating as UI Orientation leaders or Upward Bound mentors.

During the fall and spring semesters, students pay $225 in fees toward use of the new rec center and other sports facilities. This fee is mandatory, whether a student goes to the rec center three times a day or never goes once during the whole school year.

Although $55 may not seem like a large sum of money, for many students it’s an added financial burden. Without the availability of student loans, students may be unable to pay additional costs.

Some students don’t work during the school year, which means their first paycheck doesn’t come until the first week in June. The majority of this money goes for groceries, lingering U-bills, and apartment costs. And since the fee deadline is June 14, a lot of students won’t have saved up enough money to pay in time and will have to pay the monthly fee of $25 — or $75 for the whole summer.

The university should include summer costs into fall and spring tuition so that students are able to pay for services through their financial aid and student loans. This would enable more students to be able to afford the recreation facility and would erase any worry of not being able to pay over the summer.

— Emily Inman

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