Photo credit: Camille Lombard.
The UCD Athletic Union Council (AUC) has stated that it can no longer fund major capital items for clubs. They claimed this was due to the fact the University has not increased the AUC grant in 8 years, in spite of increased membership numbers, activity levels and costs during that time.
At an executive committee meeting held last December, the AUC decided to review grant applications received from sports clubs. The AUC stated that from 2017, sports clubs would have to complete a special grant application to the Student Activities Committee (SAC).
In an email sent out in December, UCD Mountaineering Club were informed that they were ineligible to receive a grant this year, in spite of the fact that they’ve been receiving a grant from the AUC since the club’s inception.
Other outdoor-based sports clubs have also admitted that the grant would negatively affect their ability to hold events. However a number were worried that speaking publicly might negatively impact their standing with the AUC.
For each member a club has, they pay a €5 levy to AUC, which totalled €2,180 for Mountaineering per year, for which they would receive €5,000 in return. However, they now have to pay the levy and receive nothing in return, which leaves them down €7,180. Their treasurer, Cillian O’Corrbui, says this greatly limits their means to run events.
The changes in the grant system particularly effect outdoor sports clubs that have little or no competitive aspects to them such as the Mountaineering, Caving and Potholing, and Windsurfing Clubs. The announcement was made in an email sent out to UCD sports clubs, during the semester one exam period.
O’Corrbui, stated to the Observer: “we replied to their email within the day to ask for [an] explanation on why our grant was cut. We instantly got an automated email in response informing us that they were on holiday until the 9th of January. Their secretary offered us a meeting on the 10th of January but…we were on holidays until the 21st if January. [We] were not to receive any news on the grant situation for 6 weeks.”
“At this stage we did not anticipate not getting a grant and it’s hard to do a complete plan for all the training programmes we are going to run,” he explained.
“Usually when we receive a grant this is not an issue as we have enough funds to run the courses ourselves but in our current situation it looks unlikely that the club will be able to subsidise any training programme which will price the majority of students out of the course.”
In January, UCD Mountaineering Club and Caving and Potholing Club had a joint meeting with Suzanne Bailey, Sports Development Manager at UCD Sport, to discuss the changes to their grant situation. Following this meeting the clubs received an email from the AUC Executive Committee saying that on the basis of the revised application and grant award criteria, the clubs were deemed not entitled to receive annual grant funding.
It was also stated that while the AUC understood that mountaineering and caving clubs needed to travel, the committee would find it difficult to quantify the number of trips allowable.
“The criteria was seemingly devised for traditional sports such as rugby, football and GAA,” said O’Corrbui. “As a result [it] makes no sense for an outdoors club. It states that all travel and accommodation will not be covered unless it is for training or competition purposes. This means that Sunday hikes and all club trips are not valid in the eyes of the AUC. As a mountaineering club it is absurd not to go outside,” he continued.
UCD Sport staff were asked for a statement but has not yet replied.