Wooster club sports funding issues continue

Saeed Husain

Sports Editor

Issues with funding for club sports on campus have continued, with their leaders criticizing the ambiguity regarding methods for fundraising. 

These frustrations are following a demand by Campus Council (CC) during the budgeting process last year that clubs must pay 25 percent of their fees through self-generated means. What these self-generated means are supposed to be was not specified on the appeals documents that some clubs submitted. 

These issues were discussed in the CC General Assembly on Thursday, Sept. 20. 

At the assembly, Gabe Gerry ’19, president of Men’s Ultimate Frisbee (Ramjam), read out a statement on behalf of multiple clubs on campus who have been affected by fundraising issues this academic year. The clubs included Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team (Betty Gone Wild), Women’s Rugby, the Quidditch Team and the Wooster Scots Dance Team. The Archeology Student Colloquium, an academic club, had also asked Gerry to represent them.

“The school advertises club sports as something that any and all students can and should participate in, and we believe that as well. As an extension of this belief, we believe that no student should ever be required to pay any amount of money to participate in club competition,” he read. 

“Various clubs that need to begin fundraising are required to jump through many hoops that limit what student-run organizations can and cannot do for reasons that are unexplained or completely arbitrary.”

In particular, the issue of online fundraising was addressed. Student groups were told this semester that no form of funds generated online could be used. In particular, any sort of merchandise sold online could not be used as a method of raising funds; nor could a club use online fundraising platforms like GoFundMe.

 Gerry said, “The selling of merchandise online is, as of right now, not explicitly allowed by the administration. It was made clear that personal donations to the school in the name of a club are allowed; however, electronic fundraisers are explicitly not allowed. If the collection of personal donations for a student group is allowed by the school, what is the explicit difference between collecting physical checks and collecting donations online?” According to Gerry, other schools in the region are allowed to receive funding from external sources. He said that his peers at Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Case Western Reserve University and The Ohio State University all raised funds through online means.

In response, Julia Zimmer, the director of Lowry Center & Student Activities, commented how issues of online funding came under the purview of the Office of Advancement, and Student Activities had only relayed what was told to them. “It is under the radar. We know that we need to figure it out,” she said.

Vice President for Advancement Wayne Webster commented on the situation as well, explaining how the College’s tax status requires them to thoroughly check through all sources of funding before moving onto online fundraising. “Soliciting charitable support requires the group doing the soliciting to adhere to federal tax regulations as well as an increasing number of state registration requirements, so it’s not as simple as setting up a webpage and having funds come in.  The College, as a 501(c)3 organization, does have the legal ability to proactively solicit gifts for our mission; however before doing so we go through a process of determining what are our critical needs, what gaps in funding are we trying to fill and what existing resources do we already have that would potentially address that need,” he said.

Webster added that they had been working with Student Activities to understand what could be done.

“I’ve just begun having conversations with the student affairs office in the past week regarding club sports and their needs.  We will go through the same process of evaluating those needs and whether there are already existing resources to meet that gap in funding before we would consider soliciting gifts for that purpose through our office using our non-profit status.”