It seems the University of British Columbia is considering joining Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and is at least nominally soliciting advice from students and alumni about the decision. Personally, I have never seen varsity sports as an important part of what the universities do. For the most part, students who don’t care and don’t watch them are subsidizing athletes who contribute little to the overall university community. Sports programs also divert funding away from more valuable uses such as research, student scholarships and bursaries, and university infrastructure.
Ideally, UBC should make the ‘Varsity Sports Fee’ that gets imposed on every student an opt-in system. Then students who feel that the program is worth the approximately $200 per year cost of the program can choose to support it. By all means, attendance of athletic events can be restricted to those who pay the fee. Even so, I expect they would see a sharp contraction in their level of funding: relatively clear evidence that these programs are valued more by university administrators than by students. If the sports programs wanted to preserve their present level of funding, they would need to find willing donors, rather than exact a semi-hidden tax on those who often have far more pressing financial needs.
In any case, three consultations on the move are planned:
- September 29, 4:00-7:00 p.m. – Liu Centre, Multi-purpose Room, 6476 North West Marine Drive
- October 14, 6:00-9:00 p.m. – Ponderosa Centre, Arbutus Room, 2071 West Mall
- October 15, 4:00-7:00 p.m. – Ponderosa Centre, Arbutus Room, 2071 West Mall
Those in Vancouver may wish to consider attending.