Lancaster Students’ Union Faces Backlash After Announcement Cuts ‘C’ & Recreation Leagues in College Sport

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Lancaster University Students’ Union are currently facing backlash after it was revealed this week that the Active Lancaster recreational sport programme will come to an end. This will see ‘C’ and Recreation Leagues cut in college sports.

Speaking about the programme in their statement, the SU said, ‘the Union is not able to continue providing this service until a sustainable funding model has been put in place.’

The removal of this programme will also see the removal of ‘Active Lancaster Turn Up and Play’ sessions in futsal, squash, basketball, badminton, yoga, volleyball.

A petition to ‘Save College and Rec Sport’ has reached over 600 signatures on the Students’ Union website. Created by Imogen Fawcett, the petition lists ‘Student Wellbeing’ ‘Inclusivity’ ‘Progression’ ‘College Experience’ ‘Increasing Demand’ and ‘Economic Sustainability’ as reasons for the SU to fund and organise college netball and football C-Leagues and recreational sport.

The petition says:

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.

Imogen Fawcett

An email circulated to college captains and JCR sports officers earlier in the week which broke the news. The email said:

As you are all aware, this year I have been working at the Students’ Union overseeing the recreational and college sporting offer at Lancaster. This has included working closely with you to try and improve the college and rec sport offerings for both Football and Netball as well as providing a better support structure for college sports clubs. The funding for my role was time limited and was pledged by the Students’ Union to bridge the gap until the anticipated completion of the Sports Review.

It brings me great sadness to say that due to delays in the sports review and the continued uncertainty this leaves for the future of sports at Lancaster, the Union is unable to continue this service until a sustainable funding model has been put in place. The Students’ Union has investigated funding options both within the union and the university to continue to support this activity but unfortunately have been unsuccessful in their attempts to secure this.

Ed Baker

Speaking to SCAN about the changes, Grizedale JCR said:

We are very disappointed to learn of the changes to College and Recreational League Sport in the upcoming academic year. We estimate this will leave around 100 Grizedale students without access to the sport they love and destroy a huge part of our college pride. Without these teams, college sport just won’t feel the same and we are concerned that it will remove important communities from our student body. It is also disappointing that JCR’s and college team captains were not consulted about the changes as the news received on Monday took us all by surprise.  This will inevitably further damage the trust between the Student Body and the Union and it is regretful that once again a balance sheet is being prioritised over student experience. We will fight this every step of the way!

Grizedale JCR

Student and Grizedale netball captain Holly Mills said:

Obviously the news was devastating. College sport plays such an important part in the Lancaster experience. Playing college netball for Grizedale C’s has been the highlight of my university experience and with the proposed changes I would not have had this opportunity.  We cannot let this happen as so many people will be denied the opportunity to take part in netball and football, impacting mental and physical health across campus and risks making college sport elitist. If this had taken place this year, 60 out of 84 girls would have been impacted and unable to play netball for Grizedale. I am truly disappointed that this decision was passed by the SU.

Holly Mills

Another student, Grizedale FC Captain James Lockwood said:

The decision to no longer operate a C League and Recreation League for football will be incredibly detrimental for the 30 Grizedale students who play in these respective teams. Should the proposed changes go ahead the club and the University will lose a pivotal asset. In an ever-expanding university it is baffling to think that many of those coming to Lancaster in the future will not receive the same opportunities as the current generation of Grizedale footballers.

James Lockwood

The full SU statement reads:

Lancaster University Students’ Union currently delivers a range of sporting provision for students using its funding from the University. These include supporting 39 clubs competing against universities across the country and organising the annual Roses tournament as well delivering a range of college and recreational sporting opportunities.
 
Since 2018 the Union has been a contributor to the University’s Sports Review, a project created to decide future delivery of competitive and recreational sporting opportunities at Lancaster. The University was hoping the review would be completed this academic year. 
 
The Students’ Union pledged funds from its reserves to bridge the gap and allow the launch of Active Lancaster in October, pending the conclusion of the Sports Review.

The delay in the outcome of the Sports Review means uncertainty remains over the future of sport at the institution, and the Union is not able to continue providing this service until a sustainable funding model has been put in place. We have investigated funding options for this project both within the union and the university to continue this activity but unfortunately have been unsuccessful in our attempts to secure this.

What will change?
•    All of the Active Lancaster Turn Up and Play sessions will no longer happen: futsal, squash, basketball, badminton, yoga, volleyball
•    There will only be College Leagues in netball and football for A & B teams. Any C teams and teams in the recreational leagues will not continue 
•    The promotion and relegation within college leagues will have to be discontinued.
•    There will be less staff support available for the development of college teams as this moves from a dedicated College and Recreational Coordinator to our main Sports Coordinator
 
More than 1,000 students have participated in Active Lancaster since its launch, and the programme has proved that there is an appetite for recreational sporting opportunities among Lancaster students.

The Students’ Union joins you in your disappointment that this activity must be stopped but without the resource available to continue, we are left with little choice. If you have any unused pre-paid cards, please contact help@lancastersu.co.uk and a refund will be offered to you

The Union hopes that the University will recognise the value of the programme and allocate long-term funding to support this activity when the Sports Review is concluded.
 
The Union still offers hundreds of opportunities to get involved in exercise via our sports clubs and societies – https://lancastersu.co.uk/sport visit our website to discover the range of sports on offer.

Lancaster University Students’ Union

If you have been impacted by these changes and would like to have your voice or opinion heard, please email scan.associateeditor@lancastersu.co.uk

Olivia Kenny

Hi! I'm Olivia (but everyone calls me Liv) and I'm the Associate Editor for SCAN for 2019-2020. I was previously the News Editor and have contributed to the section since the beginning of my first year. Now in my third year, SCAN is a huge part of my University life. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions, I'd love to hear from you!

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