Of the two GUSA Presidential candidates, Liam Roberts’s manifesto is the most daring, including a radical redesign of the existing Club-Tier system which could drastically affect how clubs are funded. However, it would completely contradict Glasgow University’s commitment to widening participation by shifting wealth towards the “elite” sports teams while disadvantaging more casual clubs and their members. Roberts’ otherwise sound manifesto, which should appeal to a wide range of students, now faces serious doubts over that proposal.
Splitting his manifesto into four areas of focus: Club Sport; Student Wellbeing; Fundraising and Outreach; and Support for Council and Future, Roberts offers his detailed case built upon his past experience with GUSA and as a member of the Hockey Club. There can certainly be no doubt over his love for sport and the motives behind his candidacy, but questions remain over some of his proposals. His major idea is to transform the existing Club-Tier system into a performance-based one, where clubs will receive more funding based upon their contribution to BUCS points, in the hope that it will improve Glasgow’s overall performance. However, this could leave some of the lesser performing clubs susceptible to being left behind and finding their funding cut. When pressed on the matter, Roberts refers to the existing “instructional clubs” funding given through the Club-Tier system, referring to the Muay Thai club as an example, but this still leaves clubs open to having their funding potentially cut by the performance-based criteria, which would be unacceptable. If measures can be put in place to ensure clubs are not left behind and can continue to grow, perhaps through assurances of minimum funding, then it could improve Glasgow’s success in BUCS.
Every year, GUSA candidates claim that they will finally free up Wednesday afternoons for sport and Roberts’ manifesto is no different. Vowing to maintain the GUSA promise and work alongside other student bodies, it is difficult to see how Roberts’ proposals differ from those gone before and how they will finally see Wednesday afternoons bereft of classes. Worryingly, Roberts was quick to dismiss the idea of past “failure” despite Wednesday afternoons remaining an issue almost ten years later. In contrast, Isabella Heath has good links to the SRC, and has spurred engagement in the SRC from GUSA members, so is in much better stead to finally push this change.
Roberts comes across as a competent and passionate candidate, with a clear dedication to improving sport at the university and significant experience informing his proposals. However, doubts over his potentially divisive Club-Tier system are not to be ignored.