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Sunday, June 16, 2024

UF strips staff, faculty of free access to RecSports facilities

Faculty memberships now cost up to $50 a month

As summer approaches and the UF community flocks to campus pools to cool off, UF RecSports announced staff and faculty will have to pay to use Lake Wauburg, campus pools and gyms starting July 1.

The new membership options apply to “non-student users” and will allow access to all campus recreational facilities and programs. The reasoning behind the rule change is to ensure financial equity for UF recreational facilities because students pay tuition and staff and faculty don’t, according to its website

“This change will allow us to create an environment where everyone contributes and engages in lifelong wellbeing,” UF RecSports wrote.

One month of membership access will cost $50, four months will cost $150 and 12 months will cost $350. For a single day of access, a pass will cost $15. Students who are currently enrolled in classes are allowed access to pools through student fees. Students who aren’t in classes join faculty and staff in having to pay fees to access campus recreational facilities. 

Jorg Peters, a UF computer and information science professor, said the update posted on the RecSports website is divisive and believes the rule change comes from the university’s budgeting and not from the lack of compensation from staff and faculty.  

“What galls me about the banner is the clumsy attempt at gaslighting,” Peters said. “‘Ensuring students will no longer bear the burden of subsidizing non-student access,’ is a classic way to pit members of the Gator community against each other to deflect from the true causes and inefficiencies.”

Peters also questioned how the new policy will financially benefit UF students and how free faculty access to facilities like Lake Wauburg is an inequity against students.

“Lake Wauburg or Florida Pool may just be one less place where the UF community meets,” Peters said.

Caitlin Douglas, 26, is a UF library assistant and said the news was disappointing to hear. She had only recently started working at UF and didn’t have a chance to use the facilities frequently before the rule change, she said. 

“I understand students pay tuition,” Douglas said. “A lot of these facilities are included under tuition, but I also feel like staff and faculty are a part of the UF community and are doing their own forms of service toward the school that should qualify them as well for those amenities.”

Staff and faculty already pay for other UF amenities, such as parking, she said. The current pricing could prove cost-restrictive for some UF employees, including herself.

“There is such a difference between our lowest paid staff member to our highest paid staff member that our lowest paid staff member can probably not afford $50 a month,” Douglas said. “I could not pay it. I could not at all pay it.”

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As the supposed benefactors of the policy change, UF students had mixed opinions about the decision.

Danitsa Gonzalez, a 20-year-old UF animal science junior, sympathized with staff and faculty.

“I think [the changes] suck, partially because [staff and faculty] are a part of UF,” she said. “Their reasoning is a little harsh.” 

She did, however, believe the pricing was reasonable.

“$50 to use a pool is ridiculous, but if it’s $50 and the gym, then it’s more feasible,” she said.

Rachel Nuyten, a 21-year-old UF linguistics junior, found the policy change “hypocritical” in light of the recent controversy with UF proposing to reduce funding for the RTS bus system.

Student fees take part in funding the RTS bus system.  

“I see UF not wanting to maintain other student programs, like the money for RTS. So it kind of seems inconsistent with their actions,” Nuyten said. “I feel like if they really cared about student interests, they would be making different decisions.”

Contact Avery Parker and Kamala Rossi at and Follow them on X @AveryParke98398 and @kamalarossi.

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Avery Parker

Avery Parker is a third-year English and History major covering university affairs for The Alligator. Outside of reporting, Avery spends his time doting on his cats, reading, and listening to music by the Manwolves.

Kamala Rossi

Kamala Rossi is a fourth-year journalism major and the Santa Fe reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing, Kamala can be found surfing, watching movies and reading.

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