By Andrea Vacl
Unlike health and dental fees, Ryerson students have no say when it comes to opting out of their gym memberships.
All full-time undergraduate students pay $189 annually in athletic fees, which funds facility operations, varsity teams and includes a recreation membership. But recreation memberships weren’t always mandatory.
Students passed a referendum to switch from an optional $60 recreation membership fee to a mandatory athletics fee in 2008.
“I want my money,” said Victoria Jey, a third-year Business Management student. Like many other students, Jey is paying for recreational services she doesn’t use.
But Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s director of athletics, said that this was not a decision made by administration. “The students were the ones who came to us and said, ‘We want [make] this all a part of our tuition and all a part of our fees so that we can use OSAP like other schools to apply to it,’” Joseph said.
However the switch has left some students like first-year history student Evan Maiato asking, “If you’re not going to use it why, pay for it?”
“The school gym is supporting local jobs. If it’s optional they will opt out and the gym will die,” said second-year business management student Abdullah Idroos, who believes that students shouldn’t be given an opt-out option.
Joseph said that in the long term, students benefit from the increased fee. “For me the $189 dollar fee is more than just ‘do you choose to participate or not participate in recreation?’ All students benefit from the reputation that the $189 fee goes towards. It increases the value of their university [degrees],” he said. Joseph believes that the fee should be mandatory.
Ryerson’s fee is high compared to other schools. At the University of Guelph-Humber students pay a mandatory $85.64 fee each semester just for access to Humber recreational facilities.
However, the University of Toronto charges students an increased compulsory fee of $154.83 per semester to use athletic facilities.
Some universities have given students more choice. York University has provided students with options for saving money by using an upgrade approach. All students are given basic access to recreational facilities and can pay an additional $15 for access to cardio classes and additional equipment. But if students at Ryerson want more options, they will have to pass another referendum.
“I think that is where you look up to your student leaders and the university president to collaborate to make that decision,” Joseph said.