Petition

Save College and Rec Sport

by Imogen Fawcett 24 March 2020, 10:00

Category: University Petition

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A petition to demand that Lancaster University and the Students’ Union reintroduce sufficient funding for college and recreational sport

This is a petition in response to Lancaster University Students’ Union’s recent announcement that the netball and football C-leagues and recreational leagues will not continue, that the Committee-approved changes to the netball and football leagues will not be implemented, and that the College and Recreational Sports Coordinator role will no longer exist. This decision has been taken without first consulting the colleges and societies affected and without ensuring there is a plan to replace these provisions.

College netball and football are some of the largest groups on campus. In most college netball and football clubs, the C- and recreational leagues account for almost two-thirds of the total club size. The recently announced changes will thus affect a huge number of students; not only those affiliated to a college team, but also those students who form society teams such as Med Soc, the Spanish Society, and the Hellenic Society.

We ask for a guarantee that the netball and football C-leagues and recreational leagues will continue to be funded and organised by the Students’ Union, for a number of reasons: 

1. Student wellbeing

In 2016, the National Union of Students estimated that 78% of students suffered from a mental health issue during their time at university. The C- and recreational leagues provide a vital support network for many students, providing a space to relax, de-stress and talk to friends outside their courses and accommodation. The link between physical activity and positive mental health is well-documented. Removing the C- and recreational leagues threatens to cause a decline in the mental wellbeing of hundreds of students on campus, placing additional strain on the University’s already stretched counselling services.

2. Inclusivity

Many Lancaster students rely on college and recreational sport to engage in physical activity, which they would otherwise be unable to do, and to create social circles that sustain them through university. College and recreational sport provide a more relaxed form of activity for those who have not played sport prior to university and for those who do not wish to play at such a competitive level as the University’s teams. By scrapping the C- and recreational leagues, there is a real risk that grassroots sport at Lancaster becomes elitist, favouring only those who want, or are able, to play at a more competitive level. Many are unable to play netball or football at a higher level due to the commitment levels also required by their degrees. As a result of the announced changes, college netball would be limited to only 24 players per college, and college football would be limited to only 32 per college, leaving hundreds with no opportunity to play a sport they love. One of the systems’ assets up until now has been its inclusivity and the fact that it welcomes all players. This is not something that should be lost.

3. Progression

The decision to scrap the C- and recreational leagues denies players and teams the opportunities to improve. Currently, players have the chance to move up through the college and recreational leagues, to the University sports teams at the very top. The University’s BUCS teams benefit from this progression pathway as much as the individual players. Funding grassroots sport therefore contributes to the University’s overall sporting achievement. It is a worthwhile investment.

4. College experience

College and recreational sport are crucial to the University’s college system. Sport at this level is advertised to prospective students on open days and is a significant factor for many when choosing to study at Lancaster. Halving (or worse) the number of students who are able to participate in college sport will undoubtedly have consequences for the collegiate system, of which the University is so proud, and which makes the student experience at Lancaster so unique.

In particular, the decision to scrap the C- and recreational leagues will impact the annual college varsities, Patriots, Founders, Warriors, and Legends. With the loss of funding and support from the Students’ Union for these grassroots leagues, we have concerns for the prospects and inclusivity of these big events, which should offer an opportunity to all students to compete and represent their college. The organisation of these events is also threatened now we are without any dedicated staff to support and safeguard them.

5. Increasing demand

As the University expands and admits increasing numbers of students, the demand for college and recreational level sport will also increase. Removing the C- and recreational leagues places greater strain on the already-limited A- and B- college leagues, making them more competitive and less inclusive. Ultimately, a great number of students are going to be left without an opportunity to play sport at university.

6. Economic sustainability

The netball and football (college and recreational) leagues are predominantly self-funded. Whilst the netball court and football pitch hire costs are subsidised by the Students’ Union for matches, every team pays to cover the costs of the league administration and game officials. Each team or club also funds its own training costs and additional facility hire, as well as organising equipment, kit and social events for all members. As such, the financial burden on the University and the Student’s Union in continuing to facilitate these grassroots leagues is not especially significant or unsustainable when compared to the contributions also made by the players and teams themselves.

College and recreational sport also relies on the efforts of the Umpiring Society and the Referee Society, who provide officials and improve the standards of all leagues. Scrapping the C- and recreational leagues threatens a source of income for many students on campus who umpire and referee in these leagues; it also inhibits the development of officials (from the C- and recreational leagues to the A- and B- leagues), upon which the future of the college leagues relies. All levels of college sport will suffer, now and in the future, as a result of this decision.

 

Active Lancaster is another way in which the Students’ Union has facilitated recreational sport on campus to date, funding activities such as yoga, badminton, and volleyball. Without the support of the dedicated College and Recreational Sports Coordinator and without the necessary funding, we are concerned for the future of all recreational sport and the inevitable impacts this loss could have on student wellbeing.

The failure of the University to fund these activities has led to the Students’ Union’s decision to scrap the netball and football C-league and recreational leagues. This decision is to the detriment of current and future students, and their mental and physical wellbeing. This decision threatens a crucial part of the student experience at Lancaster and will severely damage the college and sporting community on campus. Please sign this petition so that we can protect the netball and football leagues and ensure the survival of the sporting community.

Let’s save college and rec sport.

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