PEIF proposal delayed until summer

Robyn Goodman

NMU President Les Wong announced last week that the PEIF pass initiative that students voted for at the end of last winter semester will not be voted on by the Board of Trustees until July 2011.

Last winter semester, students voted yes on an initiative that would incorporate a PEIF pass into their tuition. Wong said that the wording in the initiative was not clear and has caused the board to put off the vote to include in tuition the $50 charge.

Wong said he believes many students didn’t realize that their tuition would be raised by $50 per semester.

“In these times, we do not want to add an additional fee, especially a substantial one, to student’s tuition,” Wong said.

Many students think that when they vote yes on an initiative it will automatically be put into effect, Wong said. The board has the final vote; the students are only showing the Board of Trustees their views, Wong said.

Students exercise on the treadmills at the PEIF. The $50 fee proposed through the referendum last semester would provide a PEIF pass to all students, as well as offering money to upgrade and buy new exercise equipment. // Justin Key/NW

“What this has shown us is that we need a better process in reviewing the initiatives,” Wong said. “The language was not clear enough.”

Another reason why the board is waiting until July 2011 to vote is that when the university sets its tuition, it must report that number to the state, Wong said.

“We don’t want to have a large increase on the tuition that the state won’t understand,” Wong said. “While the students did vote for the increase, the state doesn’t know that.”

The money that would have come from the PEIF pass initiative would have paid for things such as new equipment, more classes and extended hours.

The university gave the PEIF recreational center interim money to help with necessary repairs, said Gavin Leach, vice president of finance. He has been working with the PEIF recreational center to find out what their short-term needs are.

“We are looking to meet the needs they have in place now, and then we’ll assess their needs for next year,” Leach said.

The administration is looking at what the needs are, which will determine if or how much tuition will be raised next year, Leach said.

“There is support for the initiative within the administration, but with the new governor and legislature, we can’t be sure of how much money the university will receive,” Leach said.

The PEIF is usually one of the first places that loses funds when cuts are made, said Brian Gaudreau, associate director of recreation programming.

“There is not enough money for equipment and the things we need,” Gaudreau said.

The machines are usually replaced every three years, but because of budget cuts, the PEIF has had to make things work by fixing the existing equipment instead of purchasing new machines, he said.

Students come to the PEIF not only to work out, but to meet new people and try new things, Geaudreau said.

“Campus recreation at other universities is used as a recruitment tool,” he said. “Students come to NMU because of the things we offer.”

Students for Campus Wellness (SCW) is the group that originally had the idea for the PEIF pass initiative, said Candace Sequin, president of Students for Campus Wellness.

“Our biggest goal is trying to find things for everyone,” Sequin said. “Students who don’t work out can experience other things, other than physically working out.”

To find out what students want to see at the recreation center, SCW has conducted surveys and put out suggestion boxes for students to give their opinions.

“We just want everyone to have the opportunity to get a PEIF pass at an affordable price,” Sequin said.