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KU chancellor upholds rejection of student fee

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- University of Kansas students will not have to pay a $25-per-semester fee for athletics, but they will have to pay two other new fees in the fall, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said.

The chancellor said Thursday that she would uphold a March 12 vote by the Student Senate to eliminate the $25 fee that began in the late 1970s to support women's and non-revenue sports. The fee raised about $1.1 million in 2013 for the Kansas athletics department.

However, Gray-Little also said students will be charged $12 per semester to pay off debt on the Student Recreation Fitness Center and $7 to support university athletics programs, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1o7k6qK ).

Gray-Little said she wanted to honor the senate's role as representatives of university students. But she said the vote annulled an April 2004 fee agreement that Kansas Athletics used to pay for the recreation center expansion. The $12 Student Recreation and Fitness Center Fee will help cover bonds for the project, which require annual payments of $470,000 until 2027.

The $7 Kansas Athletics Fee would decrease the athletic department's revenue from student fees by $340,000, Gray-Little said.

"This change eliminates almost half of the net fee that went to Kansas Athletics, while ensuring students will continue to provide a measure of support to athletics programs in recognition of the role intercollegiate sports play in the lives of students," she said.

Student leaders voted the rescind the $25-per-semester fee because they said Kansas Athletics Inc., the operating arm of the athletics department, makes enough revenue to support women's sports.

Student body president Marcus Tetwiler and student body vice president Emma Halling said in a statement that the appreciated the chancellor's respect for the "will and autonomy" of students.

"Clearly, the chancellor's decision represents a compromise in which neither Kansas Athletics nor Student Senate received what we initially desired," the senate leaders said. "However, we are pleased with the strengthened lines of communication we have cultivated with the chancellor and university administration throughout this process."

With the chancellor's decision, required campus fees will be $453.54 per semester beginning in the fall, an increase of $12.49 from this school year.

Increased ticket prices for students is one possibility for recovering some of the lost revenue, Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony said.

"The student government leaders told us more than once that they wanted the students who buy tickets to bear the brunt of this cost, but we haven't decided yet what we'll do going forward," he said.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com