Recreation vs. Education

More tid bits from that story:

From Tim McNeilly:

*The expansion takes the square footage from 64,000 to 100,000

*Says it will create jobs for both staff and students

*McNeilly had approached the Student Government about the expansion in 2005, he says before the current economic downturn could be predicted. The S.G. then sent out an email survey. Out of 12,ooo students…1,770 replied and 70% of those voted for the upgrade (about 10% of the student body).

*Says that he received numerous complaints about crowding and that each year the number of students going through his turn styles continue to increase (enrollment each year is growing).

*Student fees pay for things like dorms and recreation centers. State dollars pay for classrooms. A new rec center is not in lieu of classroom funding.

*Says if they don’t build the rec center now, it will only get more expensive later.

* Says the recreation center is important to bringing in higher quality students and is a major stop on the high school tour.

*Says a recreation center is part of lookingafter the “whole person” of a student…not just their academic upbringing.


From Student Government:

*They say this was the largest response to a student survey they’ve seen.

*Are concerned that students go off campus to use private facilities (Gold’s Gym, etc)

–>Here is a letter I received from Charles Soden, a student who was part of this committee, who would like it reiterated that classroom and recreation funding are separate:

“It’s also noteworthy that we have some of the lowest square footage of recreational space per student.  As for academics, only state money and tuition go toward that and only that….At this stage in the budget there has also been no consolidation of classes and pay cuts for faculty.  


As part of the budget reversion process, there is a temporary delay on hiring for vacant positions.  No jobs have been eliminated, and on top of that it’s absurd for him to claim that quality of education is “definitely” going to go down.  On the contrary, before early enrollment even ended we had reached a new record level of applicants.  At current we are already fourth in the state for highest incoming freshman GPA. 


If people are really concerned about the level of budget cuts, I think the real story here is how UNCW receives the fourth lowest amount of state appropriations for the UNCSystem.  Although this university provides an unmatched level of education in the region (and even the state for certain fields), we are given approximately $9,000 per full time equivalent while schools such as Chapel Hill and NC State receive almost double that.  There seems to be a demand to increase our academic prestige but not a desire to provide an equitable level of funding for smaller schools such as UNCW to be able to do so.    


New rec center or not, academic spending will remain completely unaffected.  We cannot put more money towards academics unless 1) enrollment increases, 2)tuition increases, or 3)the state gives us more money.  We’ve tried number 1 for some time and enrollment has grown over the past decade.  However with increased enrollment comes new challenges such as funding the services students require (like campus rec).  Tuition can be increased but is capped by the Board of Governors at 6.5%.  Commitment from our school also means we focus a good chunk of this money on increasing financial aid for students.  So that leaves a smaller amount for faculty and new positions (both of which will be funded with this year’s increase).  So that leaves us with number 3.  Increasing state appropriations is the best and most fair way to give this university to reward it deserves for stretching the dollar so far for so long. 


From the professors I spoke with:


*Braman was an adjunct who taught Personal Finance. His class was not incorporated into the Spring semester and so he is no longer teaching at UNCW. It’s my understanding that elective courses, like Braman’s were cut as a result of budget cuts.


*The professor I spoke with who wished to remain anonymous expressed concern that students do not fully understand all of the accessory fees that they are asked to approve since that bill does not come until after graduation or their parent’s are paying for it. As a result, fees continue to increase each year – under their approval – for things like new student unions and recreation centers.


*Concern was expressed over the public schools being “access” schools…and the continual increase of tuition and fees causing some families to be priced out. Scholarships do not cover fees.




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