AMS launches Clubs Recovery Benefits with mostly positive response from clubs

The AMS has launched the Clubs Recovery Benefits (CRB), a three-part support plan designed to assist AMS clubs financially and operationally in the coming term.

The CRB was created in response to feedback from a club support survey administered through December 2021. It primarily aims to support clubs in recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clubs The Ubyssey spoke to generally responded well to the benefits, but expressed concern about past attempts to communicate with the AMS around financial assistance.

Ekamjot Kaur, president of the UBC Cooking Club, said that the club was unable to acquire financial assistance last term, and their efforts to communicate with the AMS were “all over the place.” However, she called the CRB a “super necessary” initiative.

Ben Du, AMS associate vice-president administration, described clubs’ struggles during the pandemic as a cycle.

“It starts with lower quality events because of COVID-19 … that leads to lower membership … then you get low revenue … and because you don't have enough money to hold good events, you have more lower quality events, and you go into this cycle that you can't break out of.”

The CRB will ideally enable clubs to obtain financial assistance to hold higher quality events and thus break out of this cycle, he said.

A clubs recovery benefit was also one of VP Administration Lauren Benson’s original promises during her campaign for the position in early 2021.

The CRB consists of three different grants, all in effect until April 27, 2022.

The Online Communication and Collaboration Grant (OCCG) provides up to $60 per club for the purchase of advanced versions of online communication platforms such as Zoom Pro, Slack Pro and Google workspace.

The Event Assistance Grant (EAG) can fund 50 per cent of event-related costs, or up to $200, for any one event per club held prior to April 27. This can be for an online or in-person event, as long as an event budget and rationale is provided.

Benson noted that clubs that operate regular practices or workshops can reach out if they would like to access the benefit to cover multiple sessions. “We are making exceptions for those who have approached us,” she said.

The UBC Dance Club is one such group. Patricia Melgar, the president of the club, said that the club is currently accessing the EAG to supplement regular dance sessions.

She explained that limited class sizes due to COVID-19 have resulted in lower revenue over the past year, but the CRB is currently enabling them to pay instructors and hold regular classes without losing money.

Lastly, the Safe Events Package (SEP) provides free KN95 masks and hand sanitizer to clubs with AMS Nest bookings, for up to three events. These resources will be distributed out of the Clubs Resource Centre. “Clubs should not have to decide between holding a good event that they're proud of, or a safe event,” Du said of the SEP.

Benefits should help defray costs, clubs say

Cole Fairweather, a fourth-year arts student and the president of the UBC Anime Club, said that the club was generally happy with the CRB.

“There have been some extra expenses we’ve had to incur this year for safety reasons, so it’s nice to see this benefit being provided by the AMS to help us with that,” he said.

UBC Cricket Club President Uday Goel said that different clubs may need different kinds of support.

Goel said that the cricket club has to make regular bookings at Thunderbird Stadium, which has incurred more costs than the $200-grant could cover.

“I think there’s … a better approach to what they’re trying to do, because most of the [facilities and] resources we clubs use are within UBC anyways.” For example, he said the AMS could arrange discounts for clubs that have to rent spaces affiliated with UBC.

Benson encouraged clubs with questions, concerns or different needs to reach out directly to her or anyone on the AMS administration team. “Clubs seem to be happy with the variety of options we have … we’re trying to be as accommodating as possible.”