Student fees are often viewed as an unavoidable consequence of attending a university, and can appear insignificant compared to the much higher tuition costs. Many students at the University of Rhode Island do not know what their student fees are directly paying for and they are also unaware that each semester they pay a Building Fee that goes towards the Ryan Center and Brad Boss Ice Arena.
For the past six years, both full-time undergraduate and graduate students have been paying a $209 building fee each semester, or $418 each academic year, and part-time students have been paying $17 a year. This is a huge increase from 2010, when the fee was $288 per year for fulltime students and $12 for part time students. Domenic Angelino, a senior double major in Kinesiology and Psychology, said, “I feel like it would be more fair if there was a source outside of the students, who could fund this.”
According to Linda Barrett, Director of Budget and Financial planning, this building fee was voted on by URI students in the spring of 2002 and was enacted in the fall to help pay the bonds for the debt services for the Ryan Center and Boss Arena. Both the state and the university are splitting these bonds.
The implementation of these fees corresponded with the completion and opening of the Ryan Center. In 2002, the student fee was $65 and has continued to grow ever since. “The fees increased because of the debt service schedule… It ended up being 2.8 million dollars a year for the debt service,” Barrett said.
The building fee is set to decrease in 2018 from $418 a year to $392 a year, saving full time undergraduate and graduate student $26 a year. Part time students would save $1 as they would pay $16 a year, as opposed to $17. This is due to a decrease in the bond from $2.8 million to $2.4 million. In response, the Finance Department reached out to President David M. Dooley to request a decrease in this fee, which he accepted.
The building fee is a part of a 30-year bond payment plan, with the last year of this payment scheduled for 2031. Because that deadline is far away, Barrett is unsure of what will happen to the building fee. “If there aren’t any new bonds to be taken out for any reason, then the expenses and the profits would decrease, then the fees should decrease, but I can’t determine what exactly will happen,” Barrett said.
Cody Anderson, president of the executive committee of student senate and a Pharmaceutical Science major, was concerned about this fee and student access to the Ryan Center. URI students can attend men’s and women’s basketball games for free, however, there are only about 1,500 seats in the student section, which seems to limit the amount of students that can attend each game. Anderson felt that this was unfair, due to the fact that all students pay this fee.
The Ryan Center and Boss Ice Arena are both managed by an outside company called Spectra Venue Management. Leah Becki, the general manager of Spectra Venue Management said the number of the seats in the student section was determined back when the original proposal was made for the Ryan Center and she also added, “we haven’t turned away one student”. Becki and the Spectra company realize that the students are the fans who create the electric atmosphere at the basketball games and they always want more students to attend.
They try to accommodate as many students as possible, so if a basketball game is not sold out then the remaining tickets are given to students. If the game is sold out but the ticket holders do not go to the games, then Spectra allows more students to enter.
According to Becki, “Spectra’s priorities are one, commencement, two, men’s and women’s basketball, and lastly, concerts.” They work closely with the Student Entertainment Committee to bring in performers or shows for the students. When working at Boss Ice Arena, they work with the URI men’s and women’s club ice hockey teams. “Our goal is to run the Ryan Center and Boss Ice Arena how the university wants them run,” Becki said.