Campus Recreation proposes to add staff fitness center charges
May 2, 2019
Faculty and staff were outraged when Campus Recreation announced they would have to pay a $200 annual fee to access the Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center and the Sullivan Aquatic Center beginning July 1 of this year. But that was only the tip of the iceberg.
It wasn’t just about the extra $200. With the increasing costs of housing and the issue of adjunct faculty salaries, they decided enough was enough.
“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Janice DeMonsi, director of Campus Recreation.
Until now, faculty and staff had free access to the facilities—a perk they felt was being stripped away.
What followed were 109 emails from faculty and staff, expressing their opinions regarding the proposed policy even though only 30 percent of the senders were active users of the Malley Center. Many felt Santa Clara’s leadership had failed them.
“People are really stretched financially and emotionally. We are living in the Valley where the cost of living is so expensive,” said Leslie Gray, an environmental studies and sciences professor. “This policy was the breaking point for staff and faculty.”
Faculty and staff are beginning to question the university since Santa Clara is currently constructing new buildings like the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, the Athletics Excellence Center and the Finn Residence Hall.
“We are in the midst of a billion-dollar fundraising campaign—Santa Clara is constructing new dorms and buildings left and right,” A.J. Williams, the senior associate director of undergraduate admission, said. “Charging faculty and staff membership will not make a dent in covering the cost. The facility has been operational for over a decade, why are they charging us now?”
DeMonsi explained that money from donors is directed toward specific purposes, based on personal preferences.
Because the million dollar endowment was intended for maintenance of the Athletics Excellence Center, none of it will go to the Malley Center.
On the other hand, Campus Recreation funds its operating expenses through its revenue, meaning the university does not provide funding.
But maintaining the Malley Center continues to be an expensive endeavor for the university. The service contract between Campus Recreation and the maintenance company has increased by $85 from last year and resurfacing a basketball court has increased by $5,000. These changes in expeses make an impact.
Since the university has not allocated money for Campus Recreation to hire another full time staff member, Campus Recreation increased the number of student hires while student minimum wages increased, raising Malley Center’s annual cost of student wages from $330,721 to $440,000 between 2017 and 2019.
For DeMonsi, any amount of money counts.
Compared to the annual visit rate of 4,700 undergraduate students, only 400-500 faculty and staff visit the Malley Center annually, meaning any extra revenue will make a difference.
“The revenue from faculty and staff membership is not a large amount, but will it allow us to replace more weight room equipment? Yes,” DeMonsi said. “Will it make us less dependent on our revenues from our summer camps which is our main source of revenue? Yes. Every little bit of money matters.”
This potential change in Malley membrship protocol is reminiscent of the “Malley Bailout of 2017,” when operating hours were slashed due to an increase in budget shortages.
Additionally, the fitness center recently began charging students for Malley use over the summer, which has not been the norm historically.
Faculty and staff were also angered by the decision by Campus Recreation to bypass the staff and faculty senate in the decision-making process.
In response, the presidents of the faculty and staff senate issued a joint statement to express their disagreement with the policy.
“No one told us about this. No one consulted with us,” said Mohammed Kadalah, professor of modern languages and literatures. “This is a Jesuit school. Is this how we should treat our faculty? Are we part of the community?”
However, not everyone agrees that the university should be held responsible for offering this lifestyle benefit.
“It’s not the university’s responsibility. They say it’s part of the Jesuit values— but you can’t expect any institution to support your lifestyle,” said Adam Hays, a field support specialist in Technology Support Services. “It’s a courageous move when you take your family and move to an expensive place like California. But when you take the risk and it doesn’t work out, you can’t blame the university.”
“It’s so easy for tenured professors to badmouth the university,” Hays said. “Many of them were just raising hell without understanding the reasoning behind the proposed policy. That’s all we see as staff of Santa Clara: faculty complaining over and over again.”
In response to the opposition, Campus Recreation has postponed the policy for a year, so that it can work with faculty and staff to propose a better solution.
“We hope others will understand that our budget is stretched,” DeMonsi said. “It’s not sustainable. Our staff will burn out.”
Contact Nicholas Chan at nchan1@scu. edu or call (408) 554-4852.