Editorial: Rec Center funding a growing concern

Funding for the Recreation Center continues to worry the Editorial Board.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the Rec requested $628,908 in funds and received only $324,425 from the Student Association, according to a report from the SA. In the last three school years, the Rec has requested a total of $1,754,308.20, and the SA has only allocated $997,217, according to the report.

The Rec is woefully underfunded, receiving only 57 percent of its requested funding.

The problem becomes even bigger as the university ignored the immediate issues of the indoor facility and built the Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex.

The outdoor complex has been a great service to the club sports teams and intramurals, but the Rec is often crowded from open to close.

Students paid a $72.59 recreation fee for the 2013-14 academic school year. The SA’s report examined the sizes of recreational facilities at MAC schools and compared the sizes with the fall 2010 enrollment of those schools.

NIU, which had a 23,850 student population at the time, was second-to-last with 5.24 square feet per student, which barely beats Kent State’s 4.09 square feet per student; one spot ahead of NIU was Temple at 5.43 square feet per student. Temple has since left the MAC.

Instead of building the large outdoor recreation facility, the Editorial Board believes NIU should have focused on expanding and updating the Rec so there is 7 to 9 square feet per student.

Along with the actual facilities being a worry, the underfunding caused a cut in hours because the Rec is unable to pay for its staff to keep the center open. With 85 percent of students reported participating in campus recreation — 10 percent higher than the national average — according to the SA report, the indoor recreational facility should be a priority for NIU.

The Rec staff, SA and NIU need to start thinking of other ways to fund the Rec so it can fulfill the needs of students.