Jessica Hammond, the senior associate athletic director at UMBC, took the podium at SGA’s student fees forum and proposed $214,000 increases for undergraduate student’s athletic fees for the next fiscal year. The fee would be approximately a $38 addition to the $1,074 fee that full-time students have been charged for both semesters this year.
The mandatory fees that UMBC students pay, which are distinct from their tuition, finance many useful and sometimes robustly necessary services. For example, the technology fee is used by the university to pay for services like Blackboard and the computers students have access to on campus. The athletics fee stands alone by financing a service that is not accessible to all UMBC students, therefore, it should be eliminated.
Of the $214,000 in athletic fee increases now approved, Hammond stated that around seventy-five percent of that capital would go towards scholarships for student-athletes. Some amount of the remaining percentage would assumably go towards continuing to fund the other services that student-athletes have access to. The students that finance these services directly through their mandatory fees would continue to be barred from these student-athlete specific services, which include a private study area and a sports medicine center.
When probed during the forum about what contributions sports teams at UMBC provide that academically enhance the university, Hammond brandished an iteration of “school pride and school spirit” to validate her cause. This is an argument that she echoed when asked for further comment on the issue days later.
“Retriever Athletics has become a source of pride with university leaders, local businesses and politicians and, most importantly, its undergraduate and graduate students,” stated Hammond.
For many students, the idea of the pride and spirit that emanates from sports teams must certainly take precedence in what they want from their college and the things they hold under importance in what is deemed the college experience. These students’ wants and needs must be acknowledged and taken into account when considering the budget, but the financial toll it takes on all students needs to heavily be considered.
For many UMBC students, their pride and spirit do not stem from retriever athletics. Emily Tillett, a junior psychology major, said, “I do not think I should be paying for another student to go to school. I understand giving some extra money and helping low-income students to go to school, but I can tell you I have never gone to a sports game and do not plan on it. I feel like I should only be paying for services that I require. I would pay an extra $500 a semester if they would put in another parking garage.”
Tillett is one of many UMBC students who do not take their school’s worth from its athletics. The university’s athletic teams do provide a sense of spirit and pride to our school for some of its students. However, at a price of more than $1,000 a year per student, which is almost one-tenth of full tuition and fees, it is neither fair nor economical to continue the mandatory athletic fee.