Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UCI's A.R.C. Remains "State-of-the Art"

By Melissa K. Mead

“We’re funded by the UCI students... and live by the amount provided by the bond”

- Greg Rothberg, ARC Associate Facilities Director

One place on the University of California, Irvine’s campus that manages to maintain a refreshing, state-of-the-art feel is the Anteater Recreation Center (ARC, for short). The grand opening of the luxurious 50-acre site in 2000 was successful in sparking “the enhancement of the campus community” by dedicating its vicinity to “fitness and wellness, intramural sports, and physical education programs.” Now, the ARC even offers cooking, dancing, self defense classes, as well as sixty-minute massages.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the ARC seems to be immune from the UCI budget cuts that are playing out across campus. In early September, ARC expenditures were the subject of an article in the New University after the purchase of brand new fitness equipment “totaling approximately $100,000,” according to Janet Konami (Associate Business Director of Campus Recreation).

The article questioned the ARC's budget and how the facility could possibly afford to shell out the money for new equipment when supposedly the current fitness machines were already sufficient.

Both Konami, as well as the ARC’s Associate Facilities Director, Greg Rothberg, discussed how the ARC is fairing during the UC budget crisis.

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Rothberg explained that in the spring quarter of 1996, students of University of California, Irvine voted on and passed a referendum called the “Student Recreational Center Funding Project,” which funded the construction of the ARC. Within this referendum, students agreed to incorporate a “fee,” much like a gym membership fee, into their tuition payment. Rothberg also mentioned that this referendum paid for, and continues to pay for the supervision of the building, as well as the maintenance, upkeep, and replacement of the ARC’s fitness equipment.

Both Rothberg and Konami said that the ARC’s funding continues to come directly from students’ fees which are automatically included in their tuition. And despite the tuition hike, and any future tuition hikes (for that matter), Rothberg also brought up the important point that “the bond (within the 1996 referendum) that pays for the building, is totally separate from what’s happening with the state budget and the UC budget.”

              He said that the only connection between the ARC’s budget and the state and UC budgets, is the tuition increase. He also said that the fees included in students’ tuition will remain the same--even if the tuition should continue to increase.

As far as outside donations are concerned, UCI’s ARC doesn’t receive any. The only outside donations that the Recreational center makes are going toward a small handful of club sports, in order to help them operate. Konami further explained that both club sports teams, as well as ARC classes and programs (such as dance, cooking, massages, etc.) generate revenue as well. This means that these classes that the ARC offers are entirely self-supporting programs that operate solely off of their own generated revenue.

             Budget decisions for the ARC are made within the Campus Recreation department, which not only manages the ARC, but also is responsible for managing and keeping track of intramural sports teams as well as clubs and classes offered by the ARC. Replacing the ARC’s equipment is practically built into their budget, based on the “useful life” of the machines," accoreing to Konami.

What about ARC employees taking any kind of pay-cuts due to the recent budget cuts? Konami’s response declared that “all full-time employees and contract employees, including those in executive positions, had taken pay-cuts anywhere between 4 and 12% (based on a graduated scale depending on salary).” And interestingly enough, since student employees aren’t allowed to work full-time at the ARC’s facility, they have remained exempt from the pay-cuts. Rothberg’s response was almost identical to Konami’s, claiming that “everyone was going to get furloughs, and that student employee pay will remain the same.” However, the ARC is only closed eight days out of the whole year, which (as Konami stated) “makes it hard to accommodate furloughs, when we don’t have many days for people to take.”

Below are the ARC's hours:

Monday-Thursday: 6 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Friday: 6 a.m. - 12 a.m.

Saturday: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Sunday: 8 a.m. -12 a.m.

While UCI’s main libraries continue to cut their hours, the ARC remains able to keep their doors open--and much later than the libraries’ hours at that. Greg explained that while “there’s been some pressure to try and reduce the ARC’s hours and offerings, we’ve tried not to do so, in order for the students to retain the opportunity to come here as much as possible.” Konami added that “Cutting hours will always be an option if we run into really hard times, but that as long as the students’ fees are included in their tuition, and tuition is being paid, we feel as though we have a responsibility to keep the hours that have been set. I don’t think that [students and faculty] pay a separate fee for library use," Konami said: "We keep hearing that this [budget crisis] is going to go on for another year or two, and if at some point it gets really bad, we’ve talked about cutting the hours back to midnight.”

For Konami, who has been on campus for over 26 years, the current budget cuts do “feel more dire” than the budget cuts she saw back in the ’90’s. And despite not being able to “see any light quite yet,” Konami suggested that “being in Recreation is actually a relatively good thing, because people still need to come [to the ARC].” She also said that unlike a handful of other activities, coming to the ARC remains (practically) a “free” thing to do, and that spending time here to blow off steam and workout doesn’t involve spending a lot of extra money--something most students don’t have lying around.

In addition, Rothberg said that “we see the ARC as a place where people are able to get rid of their stress. We’ve really tried to be conscientious of cutting things in order to save money because we feel that it’s an important place for students to come to and forget about outside stress that is involved with their finances or school.”

While what many refer to as “fairness” remains an issue within the cuts that UCI has seen so far, it is only fair to say that it looks as though we will continue to see further effects of the UC budget cuts that will affect different programs and facilities in varying ways, and that there isn’t yet a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, head over to the ARC and sweat it out!

Here's the link to the New U's ARC story:  http://www.newuniversity.org/2009/10/news/100000-spent-on-new-machines/ 

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