UHV students vote to approve fee to finance new recreational center

University of Houston-Victoria students have voted 3-to-1 to approve a referendum that will designate a $125-a-semester fee to finance a new recreational center for the Victoria campus.

A total of 447 students took part in an online vote to approve a referendum intended to start the process of getting approval to build a recreational center at UHV. Of that total, 329 students, 73.6 percent of those who voted, supported the fee. The fee will be $125 a student each fall and spring semester, $75 for the 10-week or longer summer term, and $37.50 for each summer term five weeks or longer but less than 10 weeks. The fee will apply to students who live within 50 miles of UHV’s Victoria campus. If the building is approved, the fee will begin in fall 2019.

Michael Wilkinson

“Our students at UHV are simply amazing,” said Michael Wilkinson, UHV senior director of Student Services & Judicial Affairs. “They love our institution and the Victoria community as a whole. For them to vote to impose a recreational center fee on themselves for a building that many of them will not see completed during their college careers just shows how remarkable and caring they truly are. They are a selfless group of individuals who decided they wanted to see our institution grow.”

The proposed recreational center would have a variety of amenities, including two multipurpose courts for basketball or volleyball, a weight room, cardio equipment to serve at least 30 students at once, three dance and fitness studio rooms, a room for boxing and CrossFit-style classes, a racquetball court, an indoor track and locker rooms. There also will be room to add a snack and smoothie bar, as well as administrative offices, and maintenance and operational support space.

Bob Glenn

“The addition of a recreational center to UHV’s campus would be a positive step toward becoming a destination university for our students,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “It is exciting to see our current students make the decision to support their university’s growth and begin designating money to help future students have an even better experience. I am grateful to see their dedication, and I look forward to helping support this process moving forward.”

The effort to build a recreational center began in September, when members of the UHV Student Government Association began soliciting interest to put together a committee, Wilkinson said. The committee began meeting in mid-October and was made up of 15 students. As the students considered options for the center, they toured five recreational centers at other Texas universities. Before the vote, the committee hosted two town hall meetings to answer questions from the UHV student body before beginning the weeklong vote on Dec. 3.

Deshaviah Williams

To encourage as many students to vote as possible, the association and committee members used a variety of methods, said Deshavian Williams, a UHV senior who is the Student Government Association president. Students were encouraged to vote online through social media posts, email reminders and door-to-door campaigning in the residence halls. Students also set up tables on campus where students could vote.

“The number of students to participate in the vote was more than expected, and I am pleasantly surprised by the turnout,” Williams said. “I would like to thank the members of the Recreational Center Committee who were proactive every step of the way. They maintained cooperation and composure until the referendum vote was completed and committed countless hours throughout the week and the weekends to improve our university.”

Now that the student referendum has passed, the next step will be to present the referendum and plans for the center to the UH System Board of Regents during its February meeting. If the regents approve, the plans then will go to the Texas Legislature and finally, the governor.

The recreational center will bring many benefits to UHV and its students, Wilkinson said. Students will have more amenities, which makes the university a more attractive choice for applicants by offering them a convenient location to promote wellness. It also will allow the university to offer more activities on campus, such as fitness and cardio classes in addition to the existing intramural sports and outdoor adventures programs. The center also will be a source of jobs for students.

After all the campaigning and work to promote the referendum, this vote to move forward is an encouraging sign that students take pride in UHV and want to help it improve, Williams said. During the past few years, they have seen the university grow through groundbreaking ceremonies for the new University Commons, Don and Mona Smith Hall and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building. And now, just like they did with University Commons, the students are showing their support for continued growth and improvements at UHV.

“As a student, it is wonderful to see the students of UHV supporting their Student Government Association,” Williams said. “As the president, I am grateful to serve our student body and set the foundation for future SGA presidents to improve our university. When the student body participates in the student government, there is no limit on what tasks can be accomplished.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.