Alex Lacy began his tenure as AU President last Wednesday by organising the first ever training day for the Presidents of all the sports clubs on campus. The aim of the day was to make sure that the clubs had all the information they needed with which to run themselves more efficiently. The concept was a significant departure from previous years, where some clubs were left floundering in the first term, with little idea of what they needed to be doing.
The day is the first step of Lacy’s aim to “create a more cohesive AU”, and he wants York Sport to be “not just a safety net for clubs, but as a way to unite clubs to move them forward”.
He sees the rebranding of the Athletic Union into York Sport as a sub-commitee of YUSU with a new constitution pending, as an opportunity sports clubs at York to become more focussed on a common goal, rather than their own individual interests.
Lacy also used his the opportunity to push his own aims for the year, which he summed up as, “better sport, better facilities, win more and get more people playing”.
He launched a tirade against the University administration, in which he claimed that one of the main things dragging sport down at York is the lack of a Sports Department, or even an administrative job that deals with sport or sport development.
Lacy seems keen to take the fight to the University when it comes to improving sport at York. His plans to form outdoor fitness classes involve getting as many people as possible to use the running track for things such as tyre-pulling and fitness circuits. “I want to be able to say to the University, ‘look at the number of people using a track that is barely suitable to run on. It needs to be replaced'”.
This reflects a theme that Lacy was keen to emphasise during the day – that individual protests can be ignored, but collective protests would force the University to act.
The training day also addressed the controversial issue of club initiations. York Sport are not imposing an outright ban on initiations, which some Universities have attempted to do after the furore surrounding the recent initiation video from students at the University of Gloucestershire. Instead, they are forcing clubs to sign a strongly-worded policy which implies that any complaints made will be swiftly followed up on.
While clubs will be allowed to hold initiations, the policy forbids them to force people to drink, or to coerce them in any way. The policy also bans clubs from using the term ‘initiation’, to protect the University from negative association.
The penalties that can be imposed on clubs for breaking these rules vary from individuals being banned from competing in BUCS competition, to entire clubs being expelled from York Sport altogether, and the freezing of clubs financing. Alex Lacy was keen to emphasise that any complaints would be followed up very seriously, with York looking to avoid the same controversies surrounding other Universities recently.
The day also featured several workshops on things ranging from finance and development to welfare. YUSU sabbatical officers, such as Matt Burton, helped run some of the workshops, reflecting the new role of York Sport within YUSU. The training day was a resounding success, with a high turnout from club commitee members, and will have done nothing but good for York’s sports clubs for the coming year.