By Arpan Lobo | 8/27/17 10:40pm
GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Moments from the Lubbers Cup Regatta on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016.
With more than 55 competitive and recreational programs, Grand Valley State University has one of the largest club sports programs in the country.
When the GVSU student senate announced the Student Life Fund for the 2017-18 academic year, the program received a sizable increase in allocated money to continue its growth.
Club sports received an increase of $29,000, moving from $396,000 in 2016-17 to $425,000 for 2017-18. It's an increase that Eric Garvelink, assistant director of competitive sports, believes will help club student athletes at GVSU.
"Every program benefited from the increase," Garvelink said. "The students benefited from the increase. What we were able to do was divvy up that money and allocate it to our groups based on their tier. They all got an increase in their eligible amount of funds that they're able to receive."
There are three tiers of programs in club sports. These tiers range from competitive to recreational groups on campus. Each tier was given an increase based on its needs and the size of the dues that participating students have to pay.
"We also use some of that money to fully fund the leases of some off-campus reservations," Garvelink said.
Due to the number of programs within club sports, some groups have to find facilities away from the Allendale Campus. Roller and ice hockey and water polo compete in nearby cities like Grandville and Hudsonville.
"At the end of the year, they would have to owe (club sports) thousands of dollars for what we weren't funding for them," Garvelink said. "We fully funded that lease so they don't have to pay us back."
Garvelink added that increasing the funding toward certain leases reduces part of the dues students must pay to play. He envisions this as encouragement for more students to participate in club sports.
"The goal with the funding increase was to increase the amount of money that we contribute to the programs so that they pay less in dues and money becomes less of a barrier for (students) to participate in some of our sports," he said.
Student senate echoed this sentiment as well.
"The goal has always been to decrease the amount of money that students have to pay to be involved with club sports on campus," said Jonathan Bowman, student senate president. "A lot of our club sports cost a tremendous amount of money (for) the students. Our goal was to remove that burden so more students could participate."
When the Student Life Fund budget was released in April, several other on-campus funds, such as the cultural and performing arts funds, received less allocated money compared to what they received in 2016-17. But Bowman said this had to do with the amount of leftover funds that were still available to be used.
"The finance committee does a tremendous job every year creating our proposed budget," Bowman said. "They really get to see where the needs are. We have $1.2 million in the Student Life Fund, and at the end of the year, we want that to be gone."
Bowman cited the example of the cultural fund, which received an increase of $10,000 for the 2016-17 academic year. At the end of the year, not all of the money had been spent, creating a surplus in the budget. Student senate's response was to move the funds, in this case removing the $10,000, and placing them where they could be used in entirety.
"At the end of the day, we want students to be using the dollars coming from their tuition," Bowman said. "Club sports is growing, and there are a ton of students that are involved, and even for the smaller (programs), we want the fees to be as low as possible so more can participate."