Houses located on the block of 19th and Emerald are in the process of being demolished and replaced by a brand new apartment complex. University of Oregon students share their dismay over the loss of some of the campus’ oldest houses and the vast increase of apartment buildings on campus.
When I became a Duck in the mid- 90’s, I couldn’t wait to be part of the campus culture. To spread my wings, wear my green and yellow and embrace all that the University of Oregon had to offer. It quickly became apparent, that what the University had to offer me was very different than what it offered to its student athletes. From living situations to treatment in class and on campus, it was clear that we all didn’t wear the same green and yellow. Recently, students at the U of O have been voicing their own concerns over what seems to be, the university’s preferential treatment of its student athletes. It doesn’t appear that much has changed since I was on campus. So I decided to do some research.
Athlete’s at the University of Oregon are a class above the rest when it comes to training, practice, playing and learning facilities. In case you aren’t familiar, they are:
- Autzen Stadium
- Casanova Center
- Ed Moshofsky Center
- Hayward Field
- Howe Field
- John E. Jaqua Academic Center
- Matthew Knight Arena
- McArthur Court
- Pape Field
- PK Park
- Student Recreation Center
The Athletic Department has claimed self-sufficiency for years now. Stating that revenue from the University’s athletic programs (ticket sales etc.) and donors is what keeps their $78 million dollar budget in the green. Of that, $31.6 million is spent on coaches and other staff. You could say it was money well spent if you consider the NCAA baseball tournament appearance, multiple top-two finishes in men’s and women’s track and cross-country, and Duck football’s first BCS championship berth. And yes, we do have a very gracious and generous donor in Phil Knight, but his donations do not cover the ongoing and long-term costs of running the department or the facilities.
While most of the Duck athletic earning power does come from football ($12.2 million in ticket sales last year), projected revenue in ticket and donations for men’s basketball next season is at $4.8 million. Not including a projected $600,000 in concession sales. I can’t help but wonder how much of this revenue goes to pay the coaches. The Duck’s elite coaches are among the nation’s highest paid in their sports. Chip Kelly’s initial five-year deal of $7 million, was replaced not long after with a six-year agreement that guarantees $20.5 million. This isn’t unheard of for schools who have elite athletic programs. Getting the Ducks to the BCS, secured Kelly a one-year contract extension and a guaranteed $4 million dollars to go with it. Well earned, you could argue. Others apparently didn’t see it that way. Kelly’s increase in compensation came at the same time Oregon’s President took a voluntary cut in salary and university employees were on their second year of negotiated furloughs due to budget problems.
According to files obtained by The Oregonian, they claim that for at least nine years, the athletics department has used hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the university’s general fund to cover the cost of academic support for athletes. Paying nearly $8.5 million over the past nine years for academic support for athletes such as counseling and exclusive tutoring. At the same time, tuition has nearly doubled and state support has plummeted to 7% of the university’s overall budget. The rising cost of tuition doesn’t help the nearly 41% of full-time undergrads who receive some form of financial aid. With enrollment to the university increasing and a near 80% acceptance rate, I figured the university to be among the elite for academics as well. The U of O ranks 111th in the 2011 edition of Best Colleges, and has a 4-year graduation rate of only 46%.
According to the university’s website (most current data being 2007-2008) a professor of Allied Arts makes an average of $63k a year. A biology professor will make about $82k a year and a law professor around $117k a year. Salaries at the university are well below those of other universities belonging to the Association of American Universities (AAU). One in three graduate classes are taught by graduate students and not by full-time faculty.
A report from the Oregon University System Fact Book for 2010 show the U of O currently has:
- 225 Tenured Professors
- 4 Non-Tenured
- 227 Associate Professors (8 of them tenured)
- 162 Assistant Professors
- 142 Instructor/Lecturers
I can’t say I received the best education at the U of O, I also wasn’t the best student. Then again, maybe if I had a $42 million dollar state of the art academic center back then, I would have been. I wonder what percentage of current students, not on track to graduate on time, would benefit from the services offered at the “Jock Box” as its called. Although part of their tuition paid for the The John E. Jaqua Academic Center, they cannot use it. Current tuition is around $4k for a resident undergraduate, which includes a building fee (for building maintenance on campus).
The list of athlete only facilities at the U of O is about to grow a bit bigger. A public hearing was held Wednesday March 16th in the Sloat Room of the Atrium Building at 99 W. 10th Ave to discuss two permits needed by the university to begin work on a new athletics building and playing field for its soccer and lacrosse teams. The proposed building and field would be housed in the athletics complex alongside Autzen Stadium. According to UO Matters, the new expansion would include space for a UO Football Hall of Fame and Museum, a covered parking facility for 300 cars, surface parking for 75 cars, a weight room of at least 20,000 square feet and space for a Duck Shop and ticket offices. That is in addition to the proposed soccer and lacrosse complex. Knight is footing the bill for the new additions, but the university has to pay an estimated $2 million to move existing underground utilities before the work can begin.
This news come on the heels of another recently completed parking area for athletes, this time for student-athletes using the John E. Jaqua Academic Center. It isn’t being met with open arms by all students and faculty. The lot is owned by the city and is being leased to the university for $63k a year. Despite the mixed reactions, some students see a bright side, “I don’t think it’s entirely fair, but maybe it’ll open up parking for the rest of the students elsewhere,” University sophomore Gary Freitas told the Oregon Daily Emerald.
The discussion around the U of O’s academics vs. athletics is a constant and ever evolving part of our community. I see both sides of the argument, having been a student myself, a long-time athlete and member of this community. I wore my green and yellow with pride then, as I do now. I will always be a Duck……but I’m beginning to wonder if my kids will even be able to get an education at the U of O without an athletic scholarship.
EUGENE– Dorm life is one of the quintessential experiences of college. It’s a chance to meet friends, establish relationships, practice conflict, stay up all night, and cushion the transition into the real world… because it happens eventually… but these days, dorm life as most knew it at the University of Oregon is becoming a bit of a rarity.
What that means for students and the community is just a reflection of what the rest of us have been going through for the past few years- that sometimes it’s not a matter of deserve, it’s just a matter of being. The community we live in has been rocked for five years by a crippled economy, submerged housing market, and many of us having to make choices that we weren’t ready or willing to make. It’s only natural that effects have reverberated into a system that’s tried to maintain a status quo with limited resources and increasing population.
The record numbers of incoming freshman to the U of O has caused ripples throughout the campus and surrounding community. There were 3,909 new Ducks this year, up from 3,777 last year. (In fact, in Oregon, enrollment at our seven universities is up 6% from last year) 2008 was the first year that housing officials at the U of O had to turn freshmen away– sending out over 800 letters to tell late-registers that their spots in rez halls were no longer available, and they would have to look elsewhere. In 08 students were eligible to live in the newly-built Stadium Park Apartments near Autzen for prices “near what they would pay in a dorm,” but that was nearly three years ago. The university has done little to lighten the load for those ineligible, save provide information. Finally last year, the U of O’s First Year Initiative was created to help provide transitional material for students having to settle off campus. A resource that promotes awareness in the community, newsletters, even easy-recipes for kids that would normally be eating in the dining hall… The FYI’s Facebook page is also a good place for freshman to find roommates and rooms for rent. Officials have struggled to keep up with the demand for housing, including breaking ground on a new residence hall to be complete by fall of 2012.
When I went back to college as a non-traditional student (basically anyone over the age of 18) in 2001, I did what students are finding themselves having to do now: find roommates. Thanks to a little ingenuity (no craigslist in that day) I managed to find a house with a few guys, and by the time class started I was in a prime college-housing situation. With a 3-bedroom townhouse (long live the 109!) that ran us $650 a month. A student in their early-20s, on financial aid, and living the college dream (and as much as roommates can be annoying and distracting) can create a very strong bond. Many continue to live with the same friends/roommates throughout their time at the university and beyond.
Rent in Eugene is running a bit higher these days, with the average listing on the ASUO’s off-campus housing guide being between $700-$1000 for a 2-Bedroom apartment. This isn’t as much of a problem for those U of O students who can afford to live at the Collegian or the new Courtside… but for the those whose parents’ fall into the “college fund?” category, it matters.
It’s not a fad anymore, and while the Great Recession might have spurred it on, America is going [back] to college in droves. Enrollment rates are up across the board, with both freshman and non-trads entering our Universities at ever-increasing rates. Residence hall caps force students to spread out into the surrounding community in search of off-campus housing while rents rise quicker than inflation. So, can’t sell that house on today’s market? Ever thought of becoming a landlord or a house-mother? Now’s the time to start your own fraternity, Old School style and turn that depreciating money pit into posh student housing that any Duck would want to live in.
EUGENE— If the past couple of weeks has given a preview of what the future of Matt Knight Arena’s traffic and parking situation will be, the outlook is grim. I drove down to campus during game time to talk to a few people about the parking situation, but after driving around for 20 minutes unsuccessfully looking for a place to park, I was forced to give up the quest. All the more discouraging because I am a regular event attendee and a fan of UofO Mens and Womens basketball.
Before Matt Court, the U of O’s Department of Public Safety had been saving money for years to build a parking structure for students. The plans were near almost solidified the plans when their budget was diverted to the arena garage. This not only took much needed parking away from students, but also took the budget away from DPS. Now the parking that is available is in a new underground that cost DPS three times as much to build as the originally planned structure. This garage is not available to students and only parks 242 of the 12,000 people in the arena above. When the proposed Arena public hearings took place, the U of O was reluctant to make concessions, even after numerous questions about parking were raised. The original proposal did not include a parking garage, at the time they felt that park-n-rides and the Fairmont neighborhood street parking would suffice. In the aftermath of the construction, however, public pressure has brought the discussion back to the forefront. Proposals for a University parking garage are on the table, but it has been pushed back on the shoulders of DPS, who of at this point has no money for new development.
Adding fuel to the controversy is the increase in the strict enforcement of violators, and extended parking permit zones and 2-hour curb limit areas. If you live in the Fairmont neighborhood, you already know that if there is an event at the arena, the surrounding area is impassable; perhaps you’ve even gotten a parking ticket during event hours that’s double the normal fine. As an attendee to a game or concert in the last couple weeks, you may have found yourself parking 10 blocks away in order to avoid the new camera systems that meter-maids are sporting to snap pics of your license plate.
The City has allotted two free residential parking permits per property, and you can get more if they are available. Guest Permits can be issued to individuals or in packets, but are not valid during the 22 arena events when the University is selling on-street parking permits. The University is runs Arena shuttles for all men’s basketball games, as well as other large arena events with three Park-and-Ride locations: Autzen Stadium, South Eugene High School, and the Springfield LTD Station. While not ideal if you live near the University, the $3.00 bus pass is a much better deal than waging parking wars down by campus.
Since there is no new proposal in the pipeline for re-vamping what was just built, we seem to have but a few choices- we can boycott the new arena, or we can live with it. I know the next time I go to a game, I’m going to carpool. That way I can have someone to split the parking ticket with.