It’s no secret that courses are expensive, but some are more expensive than others. According to the PE & Rec department's website, students who take a physical education class are required to pay a $60 course fee per credit atop what they pay in tuition for the class. But wait there’s more: classes like scuba diving, which involve certification or extra gear have additional fees.
Lynn Nester, director of physical education and recreation, said the fee is required by the PE & Rec department because their classes do not receive money from the UO general tuition fund. She said the department’s funding system is self-sustaining because of the fee, and doesn’t require money from the tuition fund.
The PE & Rec class fee is a product of Oregon Ballot Measure Five, which passed in 1990. The measure capped local property taxes and transferred control of funding for public schools to the state, rather than local funds. According to the Department of Human Physiology website, the UO closed the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 1990 as a direct result of Measure Five.
“The universities restructured where programs were offered,” Chantelle Russell, associate director of physical education said. “For example, physical education would only be offered at one state school as a major.”
Russell said the old UO PE & Rec department — although formally closed — still wanted to offer students classes for credit. To do this, the department added the fee seen today to all their classes. Russell said the revenue generated from the fees goes primarily toward faculty wages.
The first iteration of the class fee was $25 Russell said. Today the fee is $60 per credit. Russell said the fee has not increased since 2011, something she says the department takes pride in.
“Like most fees, we’ll have to evaluate it as we go,” Russell said of a possible increase of the class fee. “We recognize that students are paying tuition and our fee. We’ve really fought and reduced other areas where we could and really been mindful of supplies and equipment.”
Nester said it is rare for universities to have Physical Education and Recreation paired together in the same department like the UO. At UO, a student has the option to take a class through Nester’s department either for credit or no credit as an “activity” class. At other schools, for-credit, physical education classes are separate from the recreation department, Nester said.
“They’re oftentimes run through a school of physical education or they are other academic units,” Russell said of PE classes. “Versus us being an academic [department] tied to an auxiliary [department].”
To enroll in a PE & Rec for no credit, students must pay a $100 activity fee. Because tuition is tied to credit hours, a student taking the class for no credit would not pay tuition. Russell said that discussion around alternative ways to fund classes has been brought up before, but none of the other options were better than the current system.
“PE funding is definitely not a new topic,” Russell said. “We do recognize that students are paying more for a PE credit than they are for many other credits.”