The CUCC is now almost 21. this is a remarkable feat of survival if we remember that for most of this time the club has received no financial support from the University. The present position is that individual colleges make such rebates on subscriptions as they choose. This means that of the £14 my college collects from my LEA for sports, 6/8d goes to the caving club (1/3 of the sub.) and the rest goes towards other sports. In other universities the situation is very different. Essex have about a dozen people interested: next year they will form a club and confidently expect to collect about £100 from their Students' Union to buy tackle. They also have cheap transport available. Bradford University get a good deal of support; they can afford such things as diesel NiFe cell chargers when on holiday. None of your old carbide! An oarsman does not pay for his boat; why should we pay for tackle?
There is no obvious cure to this trouble. Increasing the sub. and thus the rebate would discourage membership initially. The best solution would be a yearly grant from the Societies' Syndicate. This should be of the order of a quarter of the LEA sports money of about £3-10s a year per member/year. If the sub. was then 10/- with no rebate, the sub. would cover a better program of lectures than we can now afford, the £3-10 a year from LEAs would cover tackle rather more adequately than at present (we do not have enough tackle for a major exchange like Simpson's - Swinsto), it also pay the expenses of the secretary and the newsletters. This would still allow something like £2-10s to subsidise meets which would reduce the cost of a weekend meet from about £2-10s to just under £2-00. This might well increase the membership and reduce the cost still more. Non-university members are a difficulty. If the subsidy appeared as actual cash they could pay a non subsidised price, but if the subsidy appears as cheap minibuses it is difficult to allow for its effect. This is the Utopian solution. We did once get £15 from the Societies' Syndicate for tackle but this was on the understanding that subscriptions would cover the cost in future.
Another possibility is the formation of college caving clubs. St. John's already has one and it acts as a useful source of NiFe cells and helmets. The next question, of course, is what happens if this is extended to the possession of 100' of ladder? Will other University cavers be able to climb it without paying a fee? And what happens when all the cavers in a particular college leave? At the present level of support caving can not be efficiently organised on the college level.
Perhaps we should take a more activist outlook. A bit of publicity for minority sports might work wonders: think of all those blank-walled boat sheds. At dead of night, armed with an electron ladder, a punt pole and paint...