University to charge fee for wellness center

The University could charge students a mandatory fee of up to $112.50 per semester to help pay for the construction of the health and wellness center, according to the 1999-2000 University Bulletin.

GW broke ground for the center earlier this semester and completion is slated for November 2000.

The fee could be added to students’ tuition bills in spring 2001, but GW Deputy Treasurer John Schauss said the fee will be prorated if the center is not ready for use by then.

“We hope to be having students walk through the door (of the center) on Nov. 15, 2000,” Schauss said. “If in fact it doesn’t open up until, for example, the middle of January, we will make an adjustment to the fee.”

Student Association undergraduate Sen.-elect Cathy Resler (CSAS) said she opposes the fee because students have been inadequately informed of the proposal.

“What concerns me is (administrators) want to impose a new fee without really telling us,” she said.

Schauss said the student fee is a necessary component of the center’s funding. He said additional sources of funding include a $4 million fund-raising campaign.

“We are hoping to raise $4 million in gifts from a series of items,” Schauss said. “Someone may want to provide $150,000 to name a racquetball court as a memorial, or $500,000 for a gymnasium.”

Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said charging a student fee has been part of the plan for funding the center since he came to GW five years ago.

“I’ve never been involved in the construction of a building without there being a fee involved for students,” Kvancz said.

Schauss said faculty members and administrators will have access to the center. He said the University has not determined how much it will charge them to use the center, but he estimates it will be about $295 per year.

The city’s zoning board has prohibited anyone not affiliated with GW to use the center. But Schauss said GW hopes the prohibition will be lifted to allow area residents to use the facility, which would generate additional revenue.

Resler said she considers the student fee excessive and may propose legislation to recommend reducing it or making it optional.

“The average undergraduate will pay close to $900 in fees for the use of the center in the four years they are at GW,” Resler said. “It’s outrageous. For $900, I better be getting my drinks free at the juice bar.”

Schauss said it is important to remember the intangible benefits of the center, including an improved sense of community.

“The facility itself is going to be such a wonderful addition to the institution,” he said. “It will help build a sense of community not only among students, but also among faculty and staff. We think it’ll be wonderful to have a student on a treadmill with a faculty member on one side and an administrator on the other.”

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