October 6, 2011

Club Sports Lament SAFC Budget Cuts

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On Thursday, a group of students representing 29 club sports teams at Cornell addressed the Student Assembly and expressed its concerns about the Student Assembly Finance Commission’s announcement that funding of club sports, as well as other clubs, will be capped at $2,700 — a $2,300 reduction from last year’s cap.Tom Hayford ’12, former president of the men’s club lacrosse team, organized the group of 29 representatives. The amount of money allocated annually for club sports funding dropped from $10,000 to $5,000 in the past year, he said, imperiling some students’ participation in the groups.“Most of our teams require dues between $150 to $200,” he said.  “Some dues could jump as much as $200 more per person. The result is that many of us won’t be able to compete in our leagues anymore or travel to competitions.”Hayford said that the cut in funding would present large challenges to groups and stressed the need for a quick solution to the issue, citing the large repercussions of the cuts.“Some teams are surviving by dropping the competitive aspect and becoming purely recreational; others are increasing dues,” he said. “Club sports are huge. They represent a large portion of the student body. We need to find a funding solution as soon as possible in the next two semesters.”Hayford said the recent changes to the SAFC funding process are to blame for the cuts. The changes make it easier for new groups to apply for funding. This year, more groups applied and the resources of the SAFC were spread thin.“There have been more requests for funding, which results in a lower amount of funding that each organization receives,” he said.Adam Nicoletti ’12, vice president for finance of the S.A., said he understood the concerns of the teams and expressed willingness to work with them.“I agree with what the teams are saying,” he said at the meeting. “This year, there was a 30.8 percent increase in the amount of funding requested. There are also 71 more groups that applied for funding; the number rose from 371 to 432 in the past year. I hear your concerns.”Ileana Betancourt ’12, a member of the women’s club soccer team, stressed that even without the funding decreases, club teams would still need a great deal of financial help.“We travel five weekends this semester, and last year we went to nationals,” she said. “We need support from the University.”John Mueller ’13, member at-large for the S.A., noted that the issue is not exclusive to club sports.“The funding issue affects many groups that represent Cornell, and that is why it’s such an important topic,” he said.Nate Treffeisen ’12, S.A. LGBTQ at-large member and a former member of the club sailing team, suggested a possible solution of helping sports teams fundraise from their alumni with phone drives.“I think it would be really beneficial to use our resources, the resources of alumni, and those of Cornell Athletics to put on these phonathons for other club teams,” he said.S.A. President Natalie Raps ’12 said that the S.A. will be holding a number of meetings for the next few weeks to discuss the issue as a whole.“This is a very important issue to the SAFC and to the S.A.,” she said. “We are trying to do as much as we can with the funds that we have. We know that there are problems and we are very dedicated to help fix them.”

Original Author: Kerry Close