By Daniel Rocchi
Athletics clubs at Ryerson can now apply for funding from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
The RSU will finalize a new form by Nov. 14 that allows clubs with competitive or recreational status under Ryerson athletics and recreation’s sport classification framework to apply for grants from the union. They can be used for events and expenses like uniforms and travel for competitions. Competitive clubs are eligible for up to $3,000 in funding per year, while recreational clubs can receive up to $1,000.
Previously, only student groups recognized under the RSU were eligible for union funding. Those groups fell into three categories: cultural, faith-based and special interest. Athletics clubs operate either through Ryerson athletics and recreation or as unofficial student groups. But the RSU’s master budget for 2016-2017 includes a new subsection with $30,000 allocated to an Athletic Groups Fund for officially recognized clubs.
The RSU decided to incorporate an athletics grant into its budget after representatives from several clubs voiced concerns around opportunities for funding at the RSU’s semi-annual general meeting in the spring. At the time, a motion for funding didn’t pass.
This is the first time that the RSU has actively funded official Ryerson athletics clubs. Until now, clubs would have been required to give up their status with Ryerson athletics and recreation and become a club under the RSU.
“We said, ‘What’s the benefit?’ and they said, ‘Well, essentially you get the money’,” said Celene Tang, a fourth-year RTA media production student and the president of the Ryerson Archery Club, one of the organizations that approached the RSU about funding. “But we weren’t about lose our gym time and gym space that the athletics department allowed us to get.”
To be recognized under Ryerson’s sport classification framework, competitive and recreational clubs must meet a number of criteria including constitutions and budgets approved by the athletics and recreation department. Successful applicants are granted access to the department’s official websites, administrative support and prioritized access to bookable facilities like the Kerr Hall gymnasiums.
But officially recognized clubs receive no funding from the department. To gain official status, they must be fully self-funded through registration fees, fundraising and awards and grants. As a result, finding the time and money to be a Ryerson athletics club member can often be difficult.
“We’ve put a lot of hours into fundraising,” said Taylar Oats, a second-year biomedical engineering student and a founding member of Ryerson’s fastpitch team, which operates as a competitive club. Playing their inaugural season this past fall, each player had to pay a membership fee of $300, and it still wasn’t enough. “We managed to get ourselves enough money to go through our first season, but I know that without the fundraising we did … we would have a hard time.”
RSU President Obaid Ullah said that restructuring within the RSU budget and alternative revenue streams, like ticket sales, created the financial flexibility for this project.
“Just as every other group on this campus is working towards something they believe in or something that they’re passionate about, the same goes for athletics, and we want to make sure we can give them that space on campus,” said Ullah.
The RSU budget was finalized in August, but this is the first week that athletics clubs will be able to apply for the grant. Ullah said the RSU has been working out the details of the grant’s requirements and application process, but contacted Ryerson’s athletics and recreation administration in mid-October to inform them of the new initiative. Only clubs that are officially recognized by athletics and recreation will be eligible to apply.
Athletics clubs can already apply with the Student Initiative Fund (SIF), which operates under Ryerson Student Life and awards money to student-led projects and organizations. Funds are awarded by a committee that includes two student representatives from every school faculty and one representative from each of Ryerson’s student unions, the RSU and the Continuing Education Students’ Association at Ryerson.
Under the SIF, new projects are eligible for up to $5,000 in funding while established projects can receive up to $2,500. Groups awarded the full amount for their category may also get additional funding based on a secondary application process. Secondary funding can reach a maximum of $4,000 for new projects and $2,000 for established ones.