LUSU demanding University sports club members to pay gym memberships is unfair

Playing table tennis twice a week requires a £129 annual fee, apparently

This academic year, Lancaster’s Students’ Union has enforced the rule that all University-representing club members must pay a gym membership fee of at least £99 to participate.

All membership fees will contribute financially into further reinvestment for sports, rather than other activities involved in the students’ union. This subsequently gives LUSU greater leeway in funding more coaching and sporting equipment for the clubs representing the university in future.

Club members now must have a gym membership just to pass through the entrance.

Club members now must have a gym membership just to pass through the entrance

Aside from this, it seems as though the union’s hands are somewhat forced due to a greater amount of BUCS teams competing for the University, which has given rise to increased funding required for transport costs.

Overall, 67% of BUCS team members already have a gym membership; a figure which means the move isn’t going to be drastically problematic to those players looking ahead.

The decision, however, is not purely for BUCS participants, but for all University-representing players using the sports centre facilities. This – in some cases – has forced a number of uni sport enthusiasts to be discouraged from playing for their club this year.

The move applies to all clubs that rely on the Sports Centre facilities.

The move applies to all clubs that rely on the Sports Centre facilities.

The University’s Table Tennis Club, for instance, are split: some play in a BUCS ‘A’ and ‘B team’, but others play as part of the ‘Championship’ in one of three local league teams.

For the majority that don’t play at BUCS level, they now must pay at least the £99 gym membership on top of the £30 required to play for the club, even if they intend to use the Sport Centre’s facilities only twice a week maximum to train.

LUSU VP Activities Natalie Sutcliffe said in a statement about the change that “decisions made were supported by several methods of consultation, the latest of which was an open public meeting to all students.”

It concludes that “this isn’t about sport costing less – it’s about creating a sustainable model for sport and allocating our resources in a way that is as fair as possible.”

Consequently though, the £129 price tag on representing Lancaster University has put many off, as local league player Luke Thomas illustrates: “LUSU apparently doesn’t seem to understand that as students, not everyone is flush with cash. The fact that around 50% of Championship players have now dropped out speaks for itself”.

LUSU have tried to work around the evident cost difficulties by offering certain members of clubs to only pay extra club affiliation costs and transport fees and say that the Sport Access Fund was designed to help students who face a financial barrier to participating.

LUTTC have had their numbers drastically cut.

LUTTC have had their numbers drastically cut.

There is, however, a very straightforward solution to this, which Green Party local councillor Sam Armstrong puts simply:

“I would hope in the future membership fees can be reversed and the university can consider increasing investment into sports. This would allow players representing the university not to have to make the decision to make an investment in playing sports for the university.

Instead it would be preferred if the university can use their annual budget and stretch funds provided to LUSU in order to subsidise players in the BUCS leagues”.