Windsor U students vote “yes” to pay for new athletic facility
The University of Windsor (U of W) student body voted in a referendum to approve a plan to build a new $73 million athletics centre. According to CBC News, 64 per cent of the student body voted in favour of the new athletics centre.
Similar to the student union building put to Carleton students in a referendum, U of W students will see a $125 increase in student fees per year, starting once the facilities are completed in 2019.
Mike Havey, the athletics director at the University of Windsor, said the project is still a long way off.
“We passed a referendum, but we do not have a formal agreement with the students. It has not yet been to the resource allocation committee or the board, so it hasn’t received board approval yet,” Havey said. “There are many steps to go through before a shovel hits the ground. The conceptual drawings are done, and then it goes to tender for a general contractor. That’s when the rubber really hits the road.”
The athletics facility was forced to go to students for funding due to the guidelines surrounding university athletics facilities.
“The government doesn’t provide funding for sports and recreation facilities, only for academic buildings, so everybody has to find a solution,” Havey said. “At most places, students have been part of that solution. Guelph, McMaster, Western, Ryerson, it’s all the same thing.”
The agreement is based on the proposed conceptual drawings produced by the athletics department in 2013.
“The first phase was to do all the focus groups, and find out what the wish list and need list was, then sort that out into a priorities list,” Havey said. “Then we had to try and establish a budget based on that. We’ve made conceptual designs, not architectural designs.”
According to Havey, the decision to build a new athletics facility was based on deficiencies in the current facility.
“The problem with the previous facility was capacity,” he said. “We had a field house that was 63,000 square feet as the only sport and recreation space on campus. So everything had to take place there. Varsity athletics, intramurals, campus recreation, general recreation.”
Despite the increase in capacity proposed with the new athletics facility, Havey said there is a potential the athletic programs currently offered by U of W won’t be increased. The referendum that students passed was for a fee increase to build the new facility, not for an ancillary fee increase to expand the varsity programs offered.
The fee increase will be implemented on all students. Some have voiced their concerns in letters written to the Windsor Star, citing added stress on students. “There are many students who are barely making it through these stressful years and they are definitely not wishing they had more weights at the U of W gym,” said a letter by Matthew C. Wachna.
But first-year combined political science and law student David Dragoti said he thinks the centre will be a welcome addition.
“Our facility was quite old and was due for change. Not to mention that we are gathering more students at the university, which means that we need more space for intramural activities,” Dragoti said.
“Overall, the pros outweigh the cons. It will be a welcome change to the school for me personally,” he said.
– Graphic by Christophe Young