Funding raised for student fitness, athletics, recreation

By JeffGraveline

At Columbia, students are offered many options to occupy their time when not in class or doing homework. While there are a bevy of things to choose from, more and more students are committing themselves to competitive sports and working out through the Fitness, Athletics and Recreation office or the Columbia Renegades.

The Fitness, Athletics and Recreation office at Columbia currently receives funding from the $40 student activities fee that every full-time student at Columbia is charged each semester. Of the money gathered by the college, the F.A.R. office received about $30,000 this year, said Mark Brticevich, coordinator of F.A.R.

“[The money F.A.R. receives] goes toward maintenance of the fitness center, paying the martial arts instructors, prizes, food for our stuff over at the gym,” Brticevich said. “That doesn’t include the cost of the gym [at South Loop Elementary] because basically what we’re doing is taking the money we get from Roosevelt University, … to pay for the gym, so that’s kind of a wash.”

The gym space shared by Columbia and Roosevelt students at South Loop Elementary is funded by the money Roosevelt pays Columbia to use the fitness center. The payments come from a previous agreement Roosevelt and Columbia had to share gym space at Roosevelt’s Herman Crown Center, which was closed due to asbestos contamination.

Of the money that F.A.R. received, $8,000 goes directly to the Columbia Renegades, the college’s student-run and student-organized club sports, said Jessica Valerio, president of the Student Government Association.

The money the Renegades receive from F.A.R. is about 26 percent of the total F.A.R. budget for the year.

The $8,000 the Renegades receive goes directly to the clubs and activities the Renegades oversee, though clubs can only receive 25 percent of their total budget from the Renegades.

“[The Renegades’ money for clubs] can cover registration, it can cover equipment for them,” Brticevich said. “The thing is, they have to fund at least three-quarters of whatever their expenses are. We will be able to pay for things like travel for them, hotels, we can pay for registration, we can pay for uniforms for them … the thing is, it’s not a guaranteed 25 percent, we can only fund up to 25 percent.”

While athletic club organizers know F.A.R. will only fund a portion of their budget, there are some that still wish the school could do more for their sport or team.

“The school is doing what they can to help us, but not completely,” said junior film and video major and lacrosse club chairman Justin Vaisnor. “They could be doing a better job.”

Vaisnor said the lacrosse club had major funding problems this year, so he had to pay $250 out of his pocket to fund the club’s first two games.

“The school didn’t pay for [the lacrosse club] to be in the league,” Vaisnor said. “The year before, they paid for all the games and we had to pay for jerseys and other things, and I wanted to do that again this year, but the funding for us was cut … when that happened we had a lot of guys drop out because they thought the team was going to fall apart.”

Vaisnor said he thinks the lack of funding had something to do with players not showing up to the game or practices, which he said forced the club to forfeit its first two games because of a lack of players.

Renegades President Erienne Byers said  instances when the Renegades cannot help a club happen more because the club isn’t doing enough to raise its own funds, while using money the Renegades allot to it.

However, if a team is taking the time to show they are trying to fundraise, the Renegades are more than willing to help as much as possible.

“It depends on how much effort [a club is] showing and putting in,” Byers said. “If they’re putting effort into fund raising and they have fund raising [money] in their account, then [the Renegades] will make an honest effort to give them what they need.”

Brticevich, F.A.R. and the Renegades could see more money in the coffers in the fall 2010 semester, as the SGA recently approved a drastic  increase for the Renegades’ and F.A.R.’s overall budgets. This increase would come from a $10 hike in full-time student activities fee and a $5 increase for part-time students, Valerio said.

“Based on a [projected] 12,000 student registration next year,” Valerio said,“the athletics budget will see a significant increase, more than tripling it … We as a student government organization support the Renegades.”

Valerio said because students have taken a more active role in the Renegades and F.A.R., SGA thought the budget increase was appropriate.Though there has been a recent increase in the number of students taking part in athletics on campus, both Brticevich and Vaisnor said that is a big concern for the Renegades and F.A.R.

“There are a lot of students who talk about wanting to participate in sports,” Brticevich said. “But nobody wants to step up and when it comes to sports, they want to show up and play the game, that’s it … most of the sports teams, I have a difficult time to get them showing up to games and definitely a hard time getting them to show up to practice.”

As long as students want to participate in sports, there will be a home for them at the Renegades and the F.A.R. office, Brticevich said.

As more students come in and sign up, taking a leadership role in Columbia’s club sports and athletics, the funding growth will continue.

“I would love to see sports flourish,” Brticevich said. “I’m looking for students to step up and take a leadership role and play.”