The Vanbrugh College Junior Common Room Committee are to hold a referendum on the future of the College’s free sports policy.
Presently, Vanbrugh is the only college at the University which offers completely free participation in college sport by channelling large sections of funds into the initiative.
This enables Vanbrugh students to take part in all aspects of every sport for which the College has a team, ranging from football through to netball.
Students of other colleges are often required to cover the costs of training as facilities must be hired from York Sport, the company that operate the York Sport Village and York Sport Centre.However, only training kits have to be paid for by Vanbrugh students.
Students are already able to vote on whether Vanbrugh should continue to offer free sport this week, with the results expected to be announced in Week Five.
Vanbrugh JCRC have suggested that their free sport policy has had a positive impact upon sports participation within the college, by encouraging more students to get involved in sporting activities because the financial burden is lessened by the subsidies.
However, the policy remains controversial because of the costs involved. At present, the policy costs the JCRC around £4,200 per year, with the expenses incurred paid for through a combination of JCRC funds, sponsorship and a small grant from YUSU. This accounts for approximately 24 per cent of the JCRC’s budget when the cost of Freshers’ Week is not taken into consideration. In comparison, £1,000 is spent each year on welfare, whilst £2,500 on events.
However, it has been argued that because the provision of free sport encourages more students to play, the policy also leads to other sources of income, such as sponsorship.
It is thought that even though abolishing the free sport policy would save Vanbrugh thousands of pounds, they would have to spend around £3,000 on other areas.
Alex Millar, one of two Vanbrugh Sports Reps, is in favour of retaining free sports and told Nouse: “Free sport is a massive part of Vanbrugh College. It gives all members access to any sport they’d like to try out and as a result of this, we’ve seen participation more than double in several sports.
“The most encouraging aspect is seeing second-years trying new sports for the first time, and the feedback we get is that because it is free, they don’t feel a pressure to commit.”
However, others argue that the money currently funnelled towards the benefit of students competing in sport could be better directed to other areas of the College.
One second-year Vanbrugh student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “It’s a shame that Vanbrugh felt it appropriate to spend £4,000 on providing activities for the same old people. That’s about 90 per cent of their cash on 10 per cent of their members.
“Considering they had such a large debt of around £3,000 for so long that was only paid off by profits made in Freshers’ Week, the whole thing seems like a gross misuse of College funds.
“I’d like to see those funds benefit all College members in the way other JCRCs use [their funds], such as weekly free food or an annual event.”
Vanbrugh is currently aiming to improve its performance in College Sport fixtures. Last year, the College finished fifth out of eight colleges in the overall points table but it wants to break into the top four in 2015.