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Original print date: August 23, 2010, in Vol. 105 Issue No.12

The UH Board of Regents overwhelmingly approved the athletics fee at its meeting on July 15. The regents heard from 18 speakers, 11 opposed, six in favor, and one asking the board to seriously consider the fee’s implications.

The BOR approved the with 11 in favor and three opposed. Artemio Baxa, Chuck Gee and John Holzman voted against the fee. The remaining regents, Carl Carlson Jr., Michael Dahilig, Clifford Dias, Mark Fukunaga, Dennis Hirota, Howard Karr, James Lee, Eric Martinson, Ramon de la Pena, Teena Rasmussen, and student representative Matthew Williams, voted in favor. Volleyball coach Dave Shoji was the only UH coach to give testimony. Shoji was in favor of the fee and is hopeful it will generate increased student turnout at games. 

Andrew Istuno, the Associated Students of the University of Hawai’i (ASUH) president, also gave testimony at the meeting. 

“It’s not whether we support UH athletics or not, we all do. It’s about holding the administration accountable to the same process other university bodies are held to when proposing fees,” said Itsuno at the meeting. “I humbly ask that you vote no to the athletic fee.”

ASUH has opposed the fee on the grounds of timing and lack of student consultation and support. 

A survey conducted by ASUH last year showed that 77 percent of the students surveyed were opposed to the implementation of the fee. The survey was conducted through the University of Hawai’i Information & Services Portal (MyUH) and polled 11,000 full-time undergraduates.

The athletics department plans to meet with ASUH, the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) and other student groups for recommendations on student seating and how the five to eight percent of the revenue designated for students will be spent. For this purpose, a new Student Athletic Fee Committee will be formed.

Itsuno says ASUH plans to fight for better student-designated seating.

“A lot of the seats allocated for students are in places where students don’t want to sit, such as the end zone at football games,” said Itsuno. “It’s like that for volleyball and baseball too. We’re going to work hard to get better seats so students can support the teams,” said Itsuno.

The fee, $50 per semester, will be implemented on Jan. 1 but free admission to games may begin in September. Students will have free access to home games with a valid student ID. The fee is projected to raise $2 million annually, $1.85 million of which will be spent on expenses directly related to student athletics and not on compensation and benefits for coaches and staff.

“The goal of this investment is for our students to benefit from a strong, visible sports program that magnifies UH Mānoa’s image, along with encouraging greater student participation in athletic events — providing memorable experiences that connect them with UH Mānoa now and throughout their lives,” said UH Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw in a statement. 

UH Mānoa students currently pay eight student fees in addition to their tuition, including student government, broadcast media, Campus Center operations, Campus Center programs, health center, student publication, student activities (SAPFB), and U-PASS. The highest is the Campus Center operations fee, at $149 and the lowest is the student activity fee at $2.70.