Club sports funding evolves, remains crucial for big-budget teams

One of the main roles of College Council (CC) is the funding of student activities and groups at the College. CC is given an annual budget of $400,000, which comes from the Student Activities Tax (SAT). The SAT is made up of a $95 per semester charge that each student pays along with his or her tuition. SAT money is then allocated to different funding pools, including the co-sponsorship fund for all-campus events, the general fund for certain clubs and sports, the national fund for teams that compete on the national level, a fund for All Campus Entertainment and a fund for CC subgroups, or clubs that have been in existence for more than two years.

Logistics of funding

According to CC treasurer Francesca Barrett ’12, there are approximately 60 campus subgroups in existence. These organizations are granted a yearly budget so they do not have to return to CC for every request they may have during the year, effectively granting them a higher degree of autonomy.

The subgroup divisions include activism, athletics and tournaments, publications and arts. Club and intramural sports teams that are part of the athletics and tournaments subgroup include men’s and women’s rugby, men’s and women’s water polo, the sailing team, the equestrian team and the cycling team.

The budgets of these sports teams are not automatically covered by the athletics department, so the budget allocation process often determines what opportunities the teams can partake in during the athletic year.

CC’s allocation system allows for the budgets of different clubs within the various subgroups to easily be viewed by the Finance Committee (FinCom), which is composed of 14 members including the CC treasurer, some members of CC and other students who are appointed separately at CC’s discretion. Two members from FinCom meet with each subgroup. According to Barrett, this interaction between FinCom and subgroups “really allows [CC] to maintain balance.”

Evolution of the system

In past years, clubs within each subgroup division were in competition for funding. A specific amount of money would be allotted to each subgroup, and the clubs within that subgroup division would gather privately in a room with the treasurer as funds were divided.

“The team with the loudest voice would get the most money,” Barrett said, acknowledging that the system was far from equitable.

The process changed two years ago to ensure that each subgroup does not have a limited number of funds. Clubs are instead granted money individually.

“CC works hard to accommodate those needs [of the different clubs],” Barrett said. Although clubs are no longer in direct competition for funding, CC must ensure that no club is unfairly given too much or too little money. Barrett said that while larger groups often need more money to function, CC must keep in mind the total SAT when granting money to clubs in order to keep proportions reasonable.

Other money for club funding can come from the Great Ideas Fund that, as of two years ago, has been funded by rollover money at the end of each spring. For the past two years, this rollover has amounted to an average of about $30,000 per year among all of the clubs.

“This year in particular, we have significantly more costs, so having rollover is really helpful,” Barrett said.

Sailing team

Despite the evolved budget allocation system, some student groups, specifically club and intramural sports teams, run into funding problems. A prime example is the sailing team, which recently requested money from CC to repair or replace its boats.

“The sailing team’s boats are currently between 15 and 20 years old,” said sailing co-captain Andrew Lorenzen ’12. “They are falling apart … One of the boats recently sank.”

On Oct. 13, CC made a decision after three weeks of debate to fund the purchase of two new boats.

“We are very happy with CC’s decision,” Lorenzen said. “This is a great step in the right direction, and a significant change from previous years.” However, he added that the team was disappointed that CC would not help repair any of the other outdated boats.

According to Lorenzen, the sailing team has a goal of obtaining a “new, equal fleet” over the next three to five years. He added that six boats is the “bare minimum” the team needs to simulate racing conditions. Currently, the sailing team has five functioning boats, as one recently sank and was destroyed.

Having six boats would allow 12 students to sail, with a few more rotating in. Sailing also needs six boats to host regattas. Lorenzen said that the regattas the College hosts are intended for beginning sailors.

“If we can’t hold these events, then there will be no place for those with less experience to compete,” he said. Lorenzen said there are between 20 and 25 members on the sailing team. All of the sailing team’s funding comes from CC. This funding covers regatta fees, gas reimbursement and small boat repairs.

“We supplement this funding with money from dues,” Lorenzen said. Individual members must pay for all personal gear, which can amount to a few hundred dollars per person. The Sailing Team cannot get help from alumni, as the College will not allow alumni to earmark funds for the team.

While the sailing team is still struggling to obtain more money for either new boats or boat repairs, Lorenzen said under the new subgroup funding system, he no longer feels he is fighting with other club sports for a limited pool of funding.
“Now we only have to convince FinCom and CC that our budget is accurate,” Lorenzen said.