Scant students speak; sports saved

The students have spoken—791 of them, anyway.

All Chico State University students will be paying $14 a semester through 2008 to support campus sports programs after a referendum passed in a special election May 8-9.

“I’m extremely relieved,” said Don Batie, the university’s athletics director, whose department headed the effort to pass the referendum. Had it not gone through, he said, the university would have had to start dropping sports—in a time when several teams are headed to conference and even national championships.

Batie said the small turnout didn’t bother him. “It was such a small amount of money, I don’t think many students paid a lot of attention to it,” he said. A mere 5 percent of students, who could vote online, in the gym (where 500 of the votes were cast) or student union, cast ballots. There were 729 “yes” votes cast, compared to 42 “no” votes.

Ten years ago, then-President Robin Wilson cut $1 million from the school’s athletics budget, and students stepped in to save it by voting in a fee hike. That pot of money, however, has been exhausted. The university hoped to step in this year, but statewide budget cuts nixed that plan.

Along with sustaining sports at least through 2008, the fees will allow intramural and club sports to expand. "We have a tremendous demand for intramurals, but we’re out of space," Batie said, mentioning new off-campus programs in bowling, in-line skating and indoor soccer.