Beginning this semester, the Student Activities Funding Commission — responsible for allocating the budget to support over 500 student organizations on campus — moved funding decisions for club sports to the Cornell Club Sports Council with a lowered spending cap, complicating funding for equipment, uniforms and other sports team necessities.
The CSC announced this change in July so that the corresponding funding council would fund organizations that fall within their scope, and the leader commissioners, who are most knowledgeable in their field, can review the budget.
The CSC also said in the past, clubs have not spent their total allocated funding. Thus, the CSC said that lowering the cap could promote funding flexibility and avoid some clubs storing funds that went unused. However, the CSC’s changes have hindered the teams’ ability to replace equipment, pay for training fields and hold or attend games.
This has become a problem for Bella Solomon ’24, captain of Cornell women’s club soccer, whose team needs to replace their equipment.
“Typically, we get some new balls each year, because usually between each year, some of them go flat, or some of them you can’t use anymore,” said Solomon, captain of Cornell women’s club soccer. But this year, we haven’t replaced any of them just because our budget is so limited.”
In addition to the shortage of sports equipment, Solomon also mentioned that the team could not afford jerseys for new team members, affecting player uniformity.
“We have to get [new team members] shorts and socks and normally we have enough money to cover it from the team’s funding. But this year, we’ve unfortunately had to have them pay for it out of their own pocket just because we don’t have money to be able to cover those shorts and socks for them,” Solomon said. “One of the girls has to wear a really old jersey that doesn’t match the other jerseys. We don’t all have the same looking jerseys, which is kind of frustrating, but we just can’t replace them.”
For Men’s club soccer, the budget cuts have led them to find full-size regulated fields on campus to play on rather than paying for off-campus fields. However, since the fields are also used by Physical Education classes or other intramural sports, it would be difficult for the club sports to acquire the space.
“There are really limited resources on campus for club teams,” said Sebastian Barquin Sanchez ’22, president of Cornell Mundial F.C. men’s club soccer.
Jeffrey Shen ’23 of Cornell Santos Soccer Club, noted that although the university has built a new turf field on North Campus, which is convenient for the soccer teams, they still compete with other teams for space.
“It’s a little bit more convenient that they built the field, so not everyone has to drive. But there are three club teams, and there’s P.E. soccer. It’s literally like a fight for space,” Shen said. “We have [it] reserved Wednesdays and Thursdays now. But P.E. soccer doesn’t finish until six. So we can only do it from six to eight, and by eight o’clock, it’s already dark.”
Facing the problems, the club leaders are looking for different ways to compensate for the budget cut, hoping to maintain the normal operation of their clubs. Teams like Solomon’s had to turn to raising dues for team members and planning more fundraising events.
“We always use all of the money allocated to our team and then we typically have one fundraiser at the end of the season to fund our trip to Nationals [if we qualify],” Solomon said. “However, this year we need to have multiple fundraisers before the season ends and hope it is enough to cover the rest of our expenses this semester.”
Sanchez also emphasized the need to look to outside connections to financially support the team.
“I just appointed a new head of external funding on the team, because we need somebody to reach out to the alumni network, and we need somebody to run the Cornell Giving Day things,” Sanchez said. “And, it’s possible that we’ll have to go back to asking players for the money.”