ARC memberships should be free for all students

by Julie Cappielo, Contributor

Health and fitness is important in society and it is especially prevalent on San Diego State’s campus. With high quality equipment and many facilities, the Aztec Recreation Center, sponsored by Associated Students, provides everything students need to stay in shape during the school year, but only if you live on campus. Students who live off campus must pay $19 per month for a gym membership.

In 2016, there were 33,776 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at SDSU. According to the Office of Housing Administration and Residential Education, there are currently 5,098 students living on campus. With 28,678 students living off-campus, it is ridiculous that gym memberships are not included in the cost of tuition.

“The on-campus residents do pay for membership. Their fee is part of their residential contract. It’s a prepaid nine-month membership,” Amy Schiller, marketing coordinator for the ARC and AS said. “Everyone pays for a gym membership, some are just prepaid. After, memberships are sold one-by-one.”

Institutions like the University of California Berkeley, San Diego, Riverside and Davis include the use of their gym facilities in their university fees and tuition.

What makes SDSU so different?

Almost 30 years ago, in 1988, SDSU approved a fee for construction and operation of the Student Activity Center. The SAC includes the now Viejas Arena and the ARC. It was proposed in a referendum that student fees would increase over time to pay off debts.

On February 17, 1988, a letter to the student body was presented which explained that the financing of the project would primarily be through, “the sale of Student Union revenue bonds to be retired over a (30-year) period.”

The Student Union Fee affects all SDSU students today because part of the funds collected from students still go toward paying off the debt of the ARC’s construction.

According to the Office of Business and Financial Affairs, the fee “supports the financing, construction, and operation of campus student body centers including (the) Aztec Student Union and Aztec Recreation Center.”

The referendum does not include the cost of student memberships nor how they will be paid. On March 7, 1988, the Daily Aztec reported that of the 35,000 enrolled students that year, only 5,807 voted on this.

If students who live off-campus are not allowed to use the ARC without membership then the Student Union Fee should be reduced to exclude the cost to use the ARC. It is not fair and it does not make sense that students who are supposed to purchase a membership have this fee included in their tuition.

If students choose to not use the ARC but decide to use another facility they are still paying this fee. Students who live in apartment complexes like BLVD63 are provided state of the art gyms within the complex, so they have no need for an ARC membership. Yet, those students are still paying for the operation of the ARC.

Students are still paying for gym memberships based on a referendum that was proposed almost 30 years ago and was agreed upon by less than 20 percent of SDSU’s total enrollment.

It’s time for something to be done. Either students should stop having to pay for the ARC as part of the Student Union Fee or SDSU should follow the suit of some of its fellow state and UC schools, and also allow all of their students currently enrolled to have full access to the ARC free of any extra charge.