REC hangs on in midst of budget impasse, students step up to the plate

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

As the budget impasse continues to impair Illinois colleges and universities, the staff at the student recreation center does its best to stay afloat while the rest of the state sinks.

After the previous director retired three years ago, and the administrative assistant retired as a result of the recent layoffs, Sarah Daugherty, the program director, and intramural director Kevin Linker are the only two full time professional staff members.

Daugherty said campus recreation is funded 100 percent on student fees and since enrollment was on a downhill slide after the director retired in 2013 the budget for the rec also declined.

As a result, the decision was made to name Daugherty lead manager rather than introducing an interim director.

“It’s a big job and I don’t pretend to be fantastic at it but my main goal is to keep things operating,” Daugherty said. “I want the doors open and the facility safe and clean so we do what we have to do to keep it that way.”

Although Daugherty said she took over the countless responsibilities a director would typically have, the doors would not be open if not for the six graduate assistants who stepped up to the plate.

“If there is ever a time when I desperately need to keep all six graduate students it’s now because without them we cannot function,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty, who worked at the rec as a graduate assistant herself, said the graduate assistants become more imperative with every staff member they lose.

In their 2017 budget proposal, campus recreation requested $204,000 and Daugherty said they want to maintain the six graduate assistants, which will cost $54,000 out of the $204,000.

Daugherty said when she hires a graduate assistant she looks for an individual who can hit the ground running, have done facility supervision before and fit in with “The Rec Fam.”

Daugherty said the graduate assistants help with scheduling the facility, scheduling the student staff, run fitness and intramural programs and manage the maintenance for equipment.

“These people are getting an experience unlike any other as a graduate assistant,” Daugherty said. “It’s good for us and it’s good for them and we can provide something that you can’t encounter in many places.”

Brittany Hoskins, one of the graduate assistants, said each assistant has their own responsibilities, which would be held by professionals at other universities.

Hoskins, who graduated from Oklahoma State University, said she is in charge of social media and marketing, memberships and technology and helps out with the monitor and cleaner responsibilities.

Hoskins said she came from a school that had a budget and plenty of professional staff, nearly 25 members.

“The reason why I came here is because I really wanted a different environment and well this was it,” Hoskins said. “There I would have been stuck doing the same things on and off.”

Currently, full time students pay $72 a semester toward campus recreation.

Daugherty said even though campus recreation does not receive state funding, they are still negatively affected by the budget impasse because they cannot make repairs unless they are health and safety necessary.

“We’re not spending if we don’t have to,” Daugherty said. “We have good days and bad days like anyone else but we’re making it.”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]