Archive for February, 2004
Date: Feb. 26, 2004
To: DFA Members
From: DFA Board Chair, Kathryn Radke
One of our members requested DFA assistance in dealing with an issue that affects many of our members–the proposed increases in Rec Hall fees. Below is a copy of a petition, signed by many people, including a number of our members. It addresses their concerns. Following it is a copy of the response they received from Janet C. Gong, Assistant Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs. The DFA Board voted to support this petition and we are inviting individual members who support it to respond ASAP by “reply” to this email. Our desire is to be supportive to the concerns of our members. Thank you.
Bruce Madewell, Academic Senate
Cathi VandeVoort, Academic Federation
Zack O’Donnell, Staff Assembly
Dear Sirs and Madam,
We the undersigned faculty and staff request that the Academic Senate,
Academic Federation and Staff Assembly request a formal reevaluation of
the Rec Hall business plan to determine what if any justification there
is for raising UCD employees use fees of the expanded Rec Hall to $480 per year, including a $5 per month locker fee. These fees are higher than fees charged by several of the Davis athletic clubs and provide members with fewer services and facilities than any of the local athletic clubs. The argument that the university cannot charge less than local businesses (the so-called town and gown argument) really should not apply to campus employees. Fees this high are particularly hard on retirees and staff. Additionally, it is not clear why Benefits should pay for part of these fees as has been suggested by the Rec Hall administrators. We have been given no real justification for why employees should pay so much. These fees are more than 200% last year’s fees.
However, we have been told at meetings with the Rec Hall administration that it would make no difference to the Rec Hall budget if the 600 faculty and staff who use the Rec Hall dropped their memberships. If this is indeed the case then there is even less justification for charging us so much.
There are a number of reasons why it is in the university’s best
interests to encourage faculty and staff to use the Rec Hall.
* It is well-documented that increasing the fitness of employees lowers the costs of health benefits. It adds to the ‘Quality of Life’ at UC Davis (http://worklifebalance.ucdavis.edu/). Having healthy, engaged, non-stressed faculty and staff is very highly desirable. All major corporations offer free athletic facilities to their employees.
* Having faculty and staff present in the Rec Hall means that there are always university employees present in case of accident or emergency.
In the past 5 years or longer the “old” Rec Hall facility has become steadily more and more run down and dirty. At the same time the use fees paid by faculty and staff have steadily increased by 3-7% each year. These are not conditions you would encounter in athletic clubs. Every year there has been more and more broken equipment. We’ve put up with leaking plumbing, filthy restrooms and showers, and extended periods without access to parts of the Rec Hall. Last year when we paid more for only 9 months access than we’d paid for any previous year we were unable to use the indoor track for more than half the year, went days without being able to use the Rec Hall at all because it was closed for events or construction, and put up with days of no hot water. There are also continuing problems with garbage not being picked up both within the facility and outside the facility, and probably as a consequence there are rats visible during the day outside the old part of the facility. Finally, we have seen little evidence that relying on part time student labor has worked in the past and it does not seem likely that the larger facility can be run this way.
* We are requesting that the business plan be thoroughly re-examined by an independent committee.
* And we want a reasonable fee, with a clear, well-justified
reason for the fee amount charged faculty and staff.
Response from Janet C. Gong
Assistant Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs
Thank you for including me in your correspondence to the Chairs of the Academic Senate, Staff Assembly and Academic Federation. I continue to appreciate your concern and your desire to re-examine the issues concerning recreation membership on our campus.
As I promised you, I want to let you know that since reading the advance copy of the petition that you kindly provided me on Tuesday of this week, I have had an opportunity to discuss both the petition and the concerns that you and I discussed in our telephone conversation with Tom Compton. As I think you know, Tom is the Executive Director of Campus Unions and Campus Recreation and in addition to his several other responsibilities, has supervisory responsibilities for the Rec Hall/Activities and Recreation Center. We have agreed to review these issues, including the methodologies and options related to the principal member fee, the fee for spouses/significant others, locker fees, payroll deduction approaches and overall customer service. We are already beginning this effort and, as you know, will additionally be meeting with Dennis Shimek tomorrow morning to review the benefits-subsidy possibilities. While I think that it would be premature at this point for me to suggest what the outcome of our review will be, I can commit that we will undertake this review quickly and with appropriate consultation. I will also commit to you that I will keep you apprised of our efforts, at each step.
Tom and I also discussed an additional option of perhaps extending the expiration date of the recreation membership/eligibility privilege cards of our current users, at least for a short period of time beyond the March-April expiration period of the currently priced cards, while we conduct this re-assessment. While I need to investigate this option further, it may provide us with a bit more time to complete the work and re-establish our discussion with you and those you represent, without any financial disadvantage to our members. I will certainly keep you informed of this option within the next week.
I do trust that you will take these steps as a the good faith effort that we are making to be responsive to your concerns. I have elected to copy Bruce Madewell, Zack O’Donnell and Cathi VandeVoort on this correspondence, simply so they will know that we are in touch with you, are aware of your concerns, and are endeavoring to respond in an expeditious manner. While I will certainly remain in touch with you, please do not hesitate to contact me at 752-8787.
With best regards,
Janet C. Gong
Assistant Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs
On behalf of the DFA Board, I am sending this information because we feel it is of interest to our members in the Health Sciences. In order to reach the largest population, the Office of the President has constructed a web site (posted 1/04) that has Questions and Answers about the Health Sciences Retirement Proposal.
The web address is as follows: http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/acadpers/q-and-as.pdf.