The captains of intramural (IM) teams have got together and sent an open letter to SUSU, requesting for the cost of the Sport and Wellbeing Pass to be lowered. It also brings to light the poor conditions of the pitches at Wide Lane, in comparison with the AU’s access.
The President of Montefiore Halls F.C. wrote the open letter ‘expressing the concerns and thoughts of the committee that I represent, and those of the individuals listed below‘. It includes the signatures of a number of intramural clubs, as well as being signed by the Intramural Officer.
This comes after Sport and Wellbeing’s stance that both IM and AU teams will not be allowed to use the facilities without purchasing the Sports Pass, which is currently priced at £99. The letter requests for the price to be lowered: whilst accepting that the facilities ‘comes at a cost’, the letter states that the current pricing ‘is far too expensive for both AU and IM teams, but in particular IM teams‘.
The letter begins by highlighting the dissatisfaction with IM and AU teams having to acquire the same membership, despite AU having far more benefits than IM: ‘It is no secret that the AU teams are given the best pitches and facilities on top of having priority over IM teams‘. Further, ‘match officials are provided to AU clubs whenever a fixture is due to be played‘.
The letter goes on to state that:
[intramural players are forced]to get changed on a pitch because the changing rooms have been allocated to AU clubs. Every week we play on pitches that, even in its best condition, are borderline unplayable and in certain circumstances, a hazard to players’ safety. Not only this, but we play on pitches where the grass is far too long but walk past football 1 and 2 pitches which is freshly cut, prepared and ready for the AU teams.
In addition, it calculates the total cost of every player in one intramural team paying their membership, which would amount to over ‘£4000, but right now it is not justified, and I as the president of our club, cannot and will not force our current members to pay said fee, until a plan is in place and we as IM clubs know exactly where and when our money is being spent‘.
Moreover, the letter considers the counter argument: if the sport passes are paid for, then improvements are to be expected:
I believe that I can say all IM clubs want to come to the best solution, however over the years I have found that we tend to not be listened to and the IM and Sport and Wellbeing meetings that take place at the beginning of the year is just one big facade. If the price was more fitting from what we are currently offered, the cost would, from our perspective, be in the low teens.
We want what is best for our clubs, and what is best for our clubs currently is ensuring that the games are being played week in week out, on pitches that are in decent condition, and that all students are getting good value for money.
In my humble opinion, I believe that if we paid the current membership Sports Pass fee, we would not see an adequate return. I also believe that we as clubs would pay the £99 a year membership if the facilities and pitches we currently have represented such a cost.
[…] I hope with this letter, we can work together alongside other AU and IM teams to rectify the current situation, and move forward so we as IM clubs, can continue to provide the fantastic and inclusive sport that AU teams cannot provide, as IM clubs will not be disappearing anytime soon.”
In response to the open letter, Olivia Reed (VP Sports at SUSU) was approached for comment:
The cost of sport can be a huge barrier to participation especially for university students. The British 2018 Active Students survey showed that 23% cited the high cost as their major barrier to sport. This concern is echoed heavily in the letter to Sport and Wellbeing and is also a concern that SUSU are very aware of. We will continue to lobby the university for a greater investment in sport and lower cost to students.
However, it is important to note that SUSU do not have any direct control over the membership price set by the University. Whilst we are thrilled with the student mobilization on this matter, we recognise that budgets have been set for the year already and this does require longer-term work. Since the letter was published, myself, SUSU staff and the Intra-Mural Officer have been undertaking positive conversations on this issue with Sport and Wellbeing which do show promise for the future.
In the meantime we are putting on free events for people to participate in sport, such as the 18 Taster Session events as part of Women In Sport Week, new regular free sport sessions – https://www.facebook.com/events/753656065135903/ and free Zumba sessions for #YouAreMoreThan https://www.facebook.com/events/434274460576237/ this January.
It remains to be seen whether the mobilization of the IM captains can form a solution of such.