UH seeks money for women’s athletics
University of Hawaii at Manoa students might help support women's athletics programs through a self-imposed fee of $50 to $75 a semester.
The proposed mandatory athletics fee would provide students with tickets to any sporting event on the UH-Manoa campus and would raise an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million a year for the athletic department, said Matt Gerhardt, a senator in the UH-Manoa undergraduate student government association.
The Associated Students of the University of Hawaii will discuss and likely vote on the fee when school resumes, Gerhardt said. If the student government approves it, the proposal would go to UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, who would decide whether to bring it to the Board of Regents.
"It is an investment in the university," Gerhardt said. "Everyone has seen the benefits" of a winning team.
Gerhardt, who worked with the athletic department to propose the fee, said all but two other Western Athletic Conference schools charge fees averaging $80 to $90 a semester.
The money would go toward fixing deteriorating lockers and other athletic facilities for women on campus.
Ge rhardt said another benefit of the fee is that it could increase attendance at all UH-Manoa sporting events, not just football.
"We found that every school increased in its attendance and support throughout the community. We also saw that when students put more money in the program, the program started to grow," Gerhardt said.
But not everyone is convinced that having students pay more money is a good idea.
ASUH President Christine Stidman said she wonders whether students can afford to pay another $150 a year in fees.
Stidman said that since the athletic department is taking in a lot of money from the success of the football team, she's not sure this is the year to start imposing the fee.
"I think everybody is so involved in athletics, it's hard for us to want to put more money in," Stidman said.
Gerhardt said the fee would be covered by financial aid and that students could be given an option not paying it.
Students on campus had mixed reactions.
Brendon Lau said he works nights as a waiter and can't go to games, so he thinks the fee should be optional.
"I think it would be good for the school, but not for individual students who don't want to attend these things." Lau said. "I don't go (to games) because I don't have time for it, not because I don't want to."
Rebecca Fonomoana, a former high school water polo player, said she would support the fee and would probably go to more games if the fee was in place.
"A lot of sports don't get as much attention as the football team. It would encourage people to watch other sports," she said. She also likes the idea of the money going to women's sports.
"If other schools have it, then why not," Fonomoana said.
A similar proposal to have students pay $50 a semester passed the student government two years ago, but it was never brought before the regents because of the transition from interim chancellor Denise Konan to Hinshaw, Gerhardt said.
If the proposal is approved, the fee would be paid by full-time UH-Manoa students. If it is successful, Gerhardt said, the student government might look at giving part-time students and even community college students the option to pay the fee and receive tickets to sports events.