Dozens of Tarleton State University students, consisting primarily of members of the Delta Zeta sorority, attended an open forum concerning the proposed increase to the school’s intercollegiate athletics fee on Monday.

The proposal to raise the fee $2 per semester credit hour in the  2009-10 academic year and another $2 in 2010-11, goes before the student body for an online election from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Tarleton Vice President Dr. Wanda Mercer explained to students why administrators thought an increase in the fee, which was implemented in 2006-07 at its current rate of $6 per semester credit hour, was necessary.

“We’ve looked at other ways to raise funds and generate income,” Mercer explained, “but because of the recession, fundraising is becoming increasingly difficult.  Because of this, we are left with the option of coming forth and asking the students for more money to keep our athletic programs intact.”

Mercer said in years past, when the expenditures met by the athletics department exceeded the combined amount of allocated funds and money generated by athletics, income generated by interest being earned by various university accounts was used to cover such shortfalls.  However, because of the recession that currently has a firm grip on the American economy, such funds, she says, are not generating returns like they have in years past.

The original proposal to increase the fee by $4 in 2009-10 was shot down in Tarleton’s student house.  After a conference committee agreed to re-present the resolution as a gradual increase of $2 each of the next two academic years, both the student senate and house approved the measure.

If student body passes the resolution, it then goes before the board of regents for final approval in their March meeting.

Reisman also addressed the students at the forun, which was held in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center on campus.

“The bottom line is, the athletics department is here for you,”?Reisman said.  We represent you everywhere we go, and we do everything we can to bring positive publicity and visibility to Tarleton.  We want to make you proud and represent you in the highest manner we can.”

Reisman also says he understands the arguments against raising fees, and that athletic officials will respect the voice of the students.

“I’ll respect your decision,” he said.  “You are the student body.  Just please give it every consideration before you vote.”