By Vanessa Santilli
Some student-athletes spend more time carrying their equipment to the game than playing on the field. Other athletes are stuck in limbo with nowhere to go between class and practice. All of them are looking for a change — but acting Athletic Director Jean Kennedy says that a referendum stands in their way.
Last Wednesday, Kennedy compiled a report of athlete responses to determine the needs of the varsity teams.
Their top requests were for a lounge, course pre-registration, expanded facilities and additional team rooms. The report is forwarded to the President’s Advisory Committee on Sports and Recreation (PACSR) — an advisory board responsible for the annual sports budget.
“It’s important they [PACSR] understand why a team may be asking for a certain amount of money or what the problems are with the overall general budget,” Kennedy said. “Based on this report, PACSR will probably realize that we have to go to referendum.”
PACSR watches over the ancillary fees — what students pay into sports and rec — and a referendum would ask students to pay more money.
Kennedy said Ryerson students pay $60 each year for sports and rec and added that the next lowest fee at a university is $127.
Referendums about sports and rec are a hard sell to students. In 2004, a referendum on raising the mandatory athletic fees to $137 failed to pass. “Even though a referendum seems negative because of a slight rise in tuition fees, the money would be put towards essential needs such as a new arena or a new facility for soccer,” said Michelle Zenger, PACSR Representative and captain of the figure skating team.
The main issue raised by the report is lack of space on campus. Without a team room of their own, the soccer teams have to carry around their equipment all day before they go to their games and practices. The hockey team spends 45 minutes commuting to George Bell Arena from Ryerson, robbing them of valuable practice time.
Although shared team change rooms have been discussed as a possible solution, there has been little mention of new athletic facilities for the Rams.
Mark Spehr, assistant captain of the men’s volleyball team, said that a lounge in sports and rec would establish camaraderie between the teams and foster school spirit. A lounge would also give commuting athletes a place to go between class and practice.
“If our practice is at four o’clock and our last class is at one, we have a three-hour window,” he says. “If you’re commuting, you have to stick around on campus or you have to go home and come back, which is a pain.”
There was also talk of athletes preregistering for courses to ensure they are able to attend all practices.
“At pre-season meetings we tell the team about morning practices and try to arrange their classes to begin after 9 a.m.,” Zenger said. “This isn’t possible for everyone, so some skaters have to leave practice early.”
Registrar Keith Alnwick said that the idea of pre-registration for athletes is a work in progress and that he could not comment at this time.
Spehr said the next step for PACSR should be to promote a possible referendum amongst Ryerson students.
“I think we have to make students realize that sports are important for Ryerson,” he said. “That’s a message PACSR and student athletes have to put forward.”