UAB students vote YES to self-imposed fee in support of athletic programs

For the first time in UAB history, students have asked for a self-imposed fee increase to support UAB Athletics and the return of the football, bowling and rifle programs.

In a campus-wide undergraduate vote that took place Sept. 29-30, 84.1 percent of voting University of Alabama at Birmingham students voted in favor of a self-imposed fee increase of $25 per semester to support the reinstatement of UAB Football, Bowling and Rifle.

news usga voteStudent leaders reviewing results with President Watts, Mark Ingram and John Jones4,035 students voted (35 percent of the undergraduate population) – 3,396 YES and 639 NO – which well exceeds the average participation of USGA votes, typically around 1,200. In the last six years, no more than 15.71 percent of students participated in a USGA vote.  

“This is a historic vote for UAB,” said Vice President of Student Affairs John R. Jones III, Ph.D. “It is the first time our students have requested a fee increase. It is inspiring to see them demonstrate their passion for UAB Athletics and make their voices heard on something important to them.”

The Undergraduate Student Government Association voted almost unanimously in favor of the fee increase in May, an action backed up by this week’s result, which was the expected outcome. USGA President Garrett Stephens says the vote is an important victory for the UAB student body.

“It is because of the student body that these three sports are returning in a sustainable way,” Stephens said. “The percentage of students in support aligns with the Senators who voted in the original vote and further solidifies our role on campus as the voice of the student body.”

The $25 per semester fee is estimated to total $3.5 million over the next five years, more than 10 percent of the $30 million need targeted by the Finish the Drive campaign.

The resounding yes vote is significant financially, and equally significant symbolically, says UAB President Ray L. Watts.

“This result sends an encouraging message to the Birmingham community and to our supporters both on and off campus who may also be considering contributions to support success in UAB Athletics,” Watts said. “That is one reason this vote was important. I want to thank our student body for supporting our teams with their vote, and particularly Garrett Stephens and the USGA for their leadership in the initiative.”

Director of Athletics Mark Ingram says the support will have an immediate impact.

“We still have a lot of work to do in our Finish the Drive campaign, and I can’t overemphasize the significance of this result to what we are accomplishing,” Ingram said. “This kind of support from students will not go unnoticed by our current and future Blazer coaches and student athletes, and it will inspire success. I’d like to say a big thank you to our students, and Garrett Stephens and the many student leaders who made this possible.”

The student fee increase is expected to be presented for approval at the next meeting of the UA System Board of Trustees taking place Nov. 5-6, 2015.