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Pammy Show full post »
It's a great idea, and an idea we explored in depth. There is precedent:  the boat club at London University achieved this, ironically under the leadership of Warwick's previous Chancellor, whom I met in person to discuss this very plan.

I brought a group of stakeholders (club alumni, current calendar participants, Sport Allies trustees, senior figures in the world of rowing) together in London for a meeting to determine if we could achieve the broad support needed to make an independent club viable.  Those of us outside the club and its alumni association were committed to supporting this approach, but the alumni did not move things forward and later stated in another meeting with me that independence from the university was not important for them.  So that was the end of that, sadly.

bejjinks wrote:
Maybe the rowing club could break free of the university. I know that has it's own challenges but maybe.
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Angus_wr wrote:
It is hard to know the reasoning of the university. Their public statements and what they have told students in private appear to be entirely contradictory.  The Vice Chancellor claimed in an email to me in January 2017 that infringement of intellectual property was his only concern, and on this basis demanded our closure under threat of legal action.  This was a groundless charge and frankly nothing more than bullying, as our lawyers quickly showed.  

They have not really come up with a better reason since.  However, the same man specified “this kind of nudity” as the problem in an off the record meeting with leaders of the boat club. Draw your own conclusions...

The university has refused subsequent requests for clarification of their reasoning under our Freedom of Information legislation.  This is now the subject of a legal challenge.

Meanwhile, all attempts to find a way to support their rowing rogramme have failed, so all of us working on the calendar have refocused as a team (rowers and production team) on supporting Sport Allies.  

The university offered all of us, including our lawyers, assurances that other funding streams were in the pipeline to sustain the club, specifically with a charitable trust to be chaired by a former Chancellor of the university. When I met with the Chancellor in question many months later to discuss the situation, he had not heard of this plan.  

So I am unable to clarify how the club can be supported, but I am given to understand that the current club president, following meetings with the university, has prohibited members of the boat club from taking part in the calendar project.  

For me, this is both tragic and exasperating, and it very much marks the end for those of us who have fought the university for nearly three years to ensure continuing support for the club. We feel we have done everything we can, and that we can no longer devote time or resources to pursuing the interests of UWBC.  I have discussed this with senior figures in rowing, including an Olympic alumnus of Warwick University, and all agree that the club no longer deserves our support. 

The club is definitely in a difficult position.  They accepted the universty’s assurances of alternative funding which encouraged them to abandon the calendar - their key source of funding that had given £150,000 to the club in cash support.  The club is now entirely reliant on the universty’s good will, which is unfortunate; it is widely perceived that Warwick University does not see the value in its rowing Programme that other, similar-ranking universities do.  

Wow.  This is beyond tragic.  At first I thought the university might have some legitimate concerns regarding issues such as trademarks and intellectual property, non-profit status, taxation issues, etc. I know the regulations surrounding all these issues can be very byzantine and overlapping in nature, and student-operated charity and general fund-raising efforts can often run afoul of them.  I think that universities usually turn a blind eye to these types of problems, but the rapidly growing scale and publicity generated in recent years by the Warwick Rowers Project might have made that impossible to do.

However, now after reading Angus' response it seems the real problem is that senior leadership at the university are uncomfortable with the extent of the nudity involved in the project, and probably also with the nature of the charities being supported and their goals.  Sad. For many people of a certain generation, their views on such topics are highly emotional in nature and rational thought does not enter the equation at all, so it's not surprising that such an impasse has been reached.  I hope the WUBC is able to maintain an adequate level of funding to continue operating and competing.  Perhaps in a few years when leadership positions at the university and the boat club change these problems can be resolved in a more satisfactory matter, for everyone involved.  I hate to think that everything the members of the WUBC and their supporters built over the years could wither away now because of these attitudes and misunderstandings.
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