The Graduate Student Council has expressed serious concerns to the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation over DAPER's decision to charge students for summer access to its facilities. DAPER had announced this past term that it would charge students $40 for summer access; previously summer DAPER access had been free to students.
According to GSC Treasurer Mireille K. Akilian G, the GSC requested that DAPER provide a $20 per month option.
Patricia Tessier of DAPER said that DAPER has responded by adding a $25 per month option and a $15 per week option, and that the existing $7 per day option will remain. For comparison, the $40 per summer is $0.64 per day; $25 per month is $0.81 per day; $15 per week is $2.14 per day. The GSC's proposed $20 per month would have been $0.65 per day.
On Wednesday night, DAPER representatives Tim J. Moore, manager of the Zesiger Center, and Daniel J. Martin, assistant DAPER head, were scheduled to appear at the GSC's monthly General Council Meeting to discuss the fee increase. Moore and Martin cancelled shortly after four o'clock, saying that they were involved with commencement preparations and would not attend, said GSC President Leeland B. Ekstrom G. Moore reports to Martin, who is under Stephen D. Immerman, interim DAPER head, who reports to Dean of Student Life Larry G. Benedict.
Akilian described DAPER representatives' decision to not appear at the GSC meeting as "a nice reflection of what the GSC and the CSC [Club Sports Council] have been dealing with for the past month." Akilian said that it singles out the students who remain at MIT over the summer, including most graduate students.
The tone of the GSC meeting was sharply critical of DAPER, addressing the lack of notice for the fee's imposition, the absence of DAPER representatives at the meeting, and the disparity between the summer $40 fee and the fraction of the $200 annual Student Activities Fee that goes to DAPER for access during the term. Approximately 40 students attended the meeting, and about half an hour was devoted to this item.
Akilian said that DAPER had not informed or discussed the fee announcement with either the CSC or the DAPER Advisory Board prior to its public advertisement. The DAPER Advisory Board first heard about the fee at the end of April, Akilian said. Akilian sits on the DAPER Advisory Board as the Club Sports Council's representative.
In an interview on May 3, Moore said that DAPER had gone through extensive discussions with students, had presented the fee to the Corporation's Visiting Committee, and had talked about it with the DAPER Advisory Board. Moore did not respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages left on Wednesday, did not make his scheduled appearance at Wednesday's GSC meeting, and could not be located in the Z-center or his office.
Martin did not have the information available about when the fee was communicated to the Club Sports Council and DAPER Advisory Board.
Benedict said that DAPER had involved students in the two-year process, though "not these particular students." Benedict said the current student representatives had only been in office for a month, suggesting transition issues may have led to miscommunication.
"The way that they did it is not appropriate and should not be done again," Akilian said. "Imposing a fee without consulting students is inappropriate."
According to an e-mail from Benedict, $140 of the $200 fee, or $1.4 million, goes to support a combination of DAPER and MIT Mental Health. Benedict also said that the $200 fee would go up to $236 for the 2007-2008 academic year, and estimated that half of the increase ($18 per student), or $180,000 "will go to the Z center."