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Commentary: College must prioritize funding for club sports

Junior+Anna+Riley+writes+about+the+financial+barriers+to+participating+in+club+sports+and+how+they+are+completely+inaccessible+to+some+students.+
Aminatta Imrana Jallow
Junior Anna Riley writes about the financial barriers to participating in club sports and how they are completely inaccessible to some students.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

College is meant to be a time of discovery and passion, hence why many students opt to join a club sport or other student organization. Sports teams are a great way to make friends, try something new or continue to improve at a craft. However, at Ithaca College, club sports are simply too expensive for many students. Campus Recreation is severely underfunded and the teams feel the impacts deeply. 

I have been on the equestrian team since I was a first-year student. I served as the secretary last year, and I am serving as the president this year. I am acutely aware of how much it costs to keep the team running, and a large portion of this cost comes straight out of team members’ pockets. Horseback riding is not a cheap sport; I don’t think anyone is going to try to argue otherwise. However, the allotment our team gets from Campus Rec is not enough to cover even most of our expenses, and so, it’s our team members who have to pick up the slack. Last year, team members covered around 80% of expenses. Of course, we fundraise as much as possible, but it doesn’t put enough of a dent in the costs to lower our team dues. In fact, we had to up team dues this year as well as add on an additional fee for anyone who wanted to compete. 

This isn’t an isolated complaint. The fact is Campus Rec doesn’t have enough money to give to all the clubs sports we have. It’s a larger issue stemming from the college’s priorities in budgeting, and on top of that, Campus Rec is stretched thin. More money simply has to be put into student organizations. 

The college loves to use its student organizations as a selling point for new student recruitment. I have received several emails asking for student orgs to table for open houses this semester. It’s amazing that the college has all these opportunities, but who’s to say these prospective students could actually participate in these clubs because of the astronomical prices? Every year when the equestrian team does recruitment, we get a large amount of initial interest and then people hear the price tag. I remember at the beginning of last year when we held our info meeting, a girl asked if we provided any scholarships. We don’t. We can’t. It’s not a horrible price for the horse world, but it’s far too high for many college students. If Campus Rec were able to fund us more, we’d be able to reduce costs and we’d likely get more recruitment. People are looking to try new things in college; there shouldn’t be this many barriers.

Campus Rec is always telling us how dire our financial situation is and how imperative it is that we fundraise. Especially in the last few years, this has become a major topic of conversation. We already pay so much money to go here, why do we have to pay even more to participate in club sports? I realize that the college cannot cover every expense, but what we are working with right now is simply unacceptable. If the college wants to claim that student orgs are an important part of campus life, they need to put their money where their mouth is. 

Everyone deserves to get involved on campus if they want to. Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to joining certain clubs. If someone wants to try a new activity, college is the time, and it shouldn’t be at a ridiculous price. As of right now, club sports are emblematic of the classist divide facing Ithaca College.

Anna Riley (she/her) is a junior acting major. Contact her at [email protected] 

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