Sally Gradstudent has at last caught on to the Health/Rec fee, but her bafflement at the combination of their forces merits an explanatory post of its own.
The Rec Center, its merit be damned, is extremely popular on campus. Where other fees have failed when put to a plebiscite, the Rec Center won both of its fee elections, getting 67 percent of the vote in 2002 (for the $3 activity fee) and 72 percent in 2005 (for the extension of the $25 bond fee). Outside of this site, coverage of the Center has been entirely devoid of criticism – even the Star‘s coverage found itself unable to contrast the plasmas with its “OMG TEH CHILDRENZ” editorials* less than a year ago.
However, the necessity of its expansion (not maintenance) during a time when many academic programs are being scaled back (and not maintained) is very much in question. Were the Rec Center to push forward on its own, it would be an easy target for critics of the university – ranging from Ms. Gradstudent to Russell Pearce – to attack.
Campus Health, although popular, is not showered with the same sort of love as the Rec. It is viewed more as a necessity and (sadly) a right, rather than a service or a treat (as the Rec Center is). Cuts in the provision of services are second only to actual instruction, but raising the cost for those services via fees mostly elicits grumbles.
In sum: the Rec can bring the votes, but it also has political baggage. The Health is less easily attacked, but also has less popular support. Both want money, and lots of it.
Political science majors and other part-time observers of the democratic political process will recognize this process as log-rolling. If both entities pushed separately for their initiatives, both of them have relatively high probabilities of failure (albeit for different reasons). Yet by combining their forces, they gain the advantages offered the other – advantages which happen to correspond with their independent weaknesses.
Thus, the rhetoric delivered by both Moore and Kreutz focuses on the health aspect of the fee; but that rhetoric is delivered after trips to the Rec Center, and it is not photo galleries of Campus Health that grace the pages of the Wildcat. As a student, you may not want to pay for one or the other of these fees; unfortunately, you won’t get that choice.
* – Sorry if the odd link doesn’t work — the Star’s archive pages are messed up for now.