$128 buys students an all-you-can-handle year of skiing, concerts, golf, hockey, theater, tennis, and more.
Nearly a year into the new Experience Tech initiative, the opinion of undergraduates and staff at Michigan Technological University seems unanimous: it's a hit.
The student-driven initiative gives students free access to Mont Ripley Ski Hill, Portage Lake Golf Course, the Gates Tennis Center, Department of Visual and Performing Arts events, hockey games, and intramural sports. The plan is subsidized by a $64-per-semester fee. To put that in perspective, a season pass to ski Mont Ripley cost $250 in 2007–08.
"I'm thrilled with the progress," says Nate Kroodsma, who, along with fellow student Nik Chaphalkar, handled the majority of the initiative's research and planning through their work with Tech's Student Commission. "Judging by my own experiences and what I've heard from others, I couldn't be happier with the outcome.
"Not everyone supported the measure. Graduate students said their additional responsibilities prevented them from taking advantage of Experience Tech. But overall, participation in extracurriculars is way up since Experience Tech started.
"It's been a tremendous success so far," says Director of Sports and Recreation Mike Abbott '80. "I know the plan has been a huge boon for the Gates Tennis Center, and the golf course saw a 143 percent increase in rounds. We're extremely happy."
At the Gates Tennis Center, Recreation Manager Kevin Kalinec reports that usage has shifted from predominantly nonstudent players to a mix of about fifty-fifty.
"Simply put, there's just a lot more tennis happening out there," Kalinec says. "We're seeing students we've never seen before out there trying it out. It's been a great plan."
Attendance at athletic events is up, and the visual and performing arts department reports a 112 percent increase in student turnout for events such as the fall symphony and jazz concerts.
Vice President for Student Affairs Les Cook calls the initiative a "great success."
"I am proud of our students' ingenuity," Cook says. "And I'm glad to be part of a university that not only listens to what students want, but embraces their adventurous side as well."