October 3, 2013 at 10:00:12am
Maddie Makoul The Badger Herald
Student fees are likely to increase to either repair aging Recreational Sports facilities or build new ones, but a new student group is looking to garner support across campus for a master plan formed from input from students.
Badgers for Recreational Reform is a student organization working to push the campus’ support for the master plan, which is set to go to a campus-wide vote in spring 2014, Ian Malmstadt, the leader of the group, said.
BRR is independent from Rec Sports, John Horn, Rec Sports director, said. The department has been working with the group to ensure students are educated and can provide university officials with information and feedback, he said.
The main goal of BRR is to get the referendum in April 2014 passed and make sure students are informed about the status of University of Wisconsin recreational facilities, Malmstadt said. Specifically, BRR wants to show students the facilities on campus are not up to par and repairs are required, he said.
“Right now, we are working to make sure we get enough student input to make sure their voices are being heard and make sure we aren’t just making a plan without the students,” Malmstadt said.
To gather student input, BRR will be placing flyers around campus and also working to contact charities, Greek organizations and other student groups that may be interested in helping pass the referendum, he said.
Group members will also hold fundraisers and open forums throughout the semester to garner support, Malmstadt said.
“I think once the facts are laid out in front of [students] a lot of them will realize that we are responsible for rebuilding these facilities on campus,” Malmstadt said.
The last time a major campaign to reform the rec facilities was mounted in 2010, the student group NatUp advocated for building a new Natatorium, but the campaign faced strong opposition from a “No New Seg Fees” bloc and the referendum ultimately failed.
However, BRR’s goal differs from NatUp by focusing on more commonly used facilities like the Southeast Recreational Facility, Malmstadt said. The referendum would affect the whole campus, and members of the group want money to go to a more widely used location, he said.
Although the master plan BRR advocates could affect more students than NatUp’s cause, Malmstadt said he believes it will still face opposition due to costs students would have to front to build or renovate facilities.
“The cost will only continue to go up with these facilities as time passes, they aren’t getting any younger,” he said.
When it comes to the cost for students, Horn said it is best to be aggressive in pursuing other funding options to make sure the burden is as light as possible for students. However, fees student segregated fees would still increase.
“The problem we are facing right now is that student fees will go up one way or another, whether it’s to pay for the existing facilities and the repairs that are needed or for new facilities,” Horn said.
Malmstadt said he is talking with students about the possibility of increased costs and trying to get input on what students might be willing to pay.
Ultimately, Rec Sports wants to ensure the plan put forward is a plan students support, Horn said.