[CUCBC Captains] Lent Bumps 2015 - Wednesday Notes & Fines

Michael Thornton michael at cucbc.org
Wed Feb 25 22:29:48 GMT 2015

Dear Captains,

I am replying to you now, but do not wish to discuss this at the meeting tonight, as I plan to raise this issue in the near future. I consider this to be relevant to the issues we will be talking about regarding the decisions made by CUCBC in recent months regarding bumps and will send out another email shortly to raise specific points that we would like to discuss.

In this email I would just like to clarify several points that CUCBC have left out of this statement:

They did respond to us with a suggestion that we search for a substitute from another college. We had already been discussing with Captains from various colleges about their ability to lend us a sub. Many of them were unable to confirm if they could lend us a sub at this time. We then sent an email to the Captains list (as per CUCBCs suggestion) asking all Captains if they had a sub who could begin training with us as soon as possible. This email was sent out on the 30th Jan (still 3 weeks before bumps). We had not a single response from any Captain following this email, and so decided to send another appeal to CUCBC stating that we had no offers for a substitute. We then had no response for over a week and prompted them again for a decision. In the mean time we kept on the look out for a substitute. Shortly after this, understandably they became very busy with other matters regarding the emergency Captains meeting and replied to us in an email on the 8th Feb explaining that they would respond to us as soon as they could.

They then gave us a confirmed ‘no’ on the 13th Feb (just 11 days before bumps) with the only justification that it did not fall within the rules. They then suggested that we could now find a sub from any recently scratched crews - a W4 crew was given as a suggestion.

This whole process was involving several of our college fellows and the Master who all agreed that this decision was not fair and that not enough justification was given to consider this situation not worthy of an exceptional circumstance - if not the at least to allow the boat to remain safe, instead of bringing in a sub just 11 days before bumps, who has come from a scratched crew, and may not have had experience in high rating pieces - something which we had already been training and had become quite competent at that point. 

I therefore bring my email to a conclusion and some points for your consideration. I just want to reiterate however, that I will not be raising these points at the meeting tonight, as it will not be the place for this discussion, but I will certainly be raising it at the next Captains meeting:

1 - What do you all think about their latter suggestion that we find a sub from a scratched crew, particularly a W4? Doesn’t this contradict the reasons that they are trying to reduce the amount of inexperienced crews in Lent bumps, and in fact increase the risk of an accident occurring? I believe that putting a W4 sub into a W1 crew who has been training 6 times a week is a frankly outrageous suggestion. This not only goes against any safety concerns, but is insulting to us as a crew who has been training extremely hard all year, but was unfortunate to have one person become injured.

2 - Would you consider this decision 11 days before bumps to be in a timely manner?

3 - What would you consider to be an exceptional circumstance, if not a college who has tried extremely hard to recruit and train up novice rowers, who follow all of CUCBCs suggestions, but is still left in an impossible situation?

If you could, please think about these points, and try to understand that we are a small college who struggle, but who try extremely hard to solve these problems to allow our college to continues competing in these brilliant races. We do not wish to discuss this issue at this point, but I felt I should clarify a few points in response to this email. We sent out the previous email simply to gage the interests of other captains in such an issue and to find out what their opinions might be, as rowing in Cambridge should be in the interest of all parties involved.

I wish everyone the best of luck in the Lent Bumps races.



> On 22 Feb 2015, at 09:14, Wilfried Genest <wilfried at cucbc.org> wrote:
> Dear Captains, 
> Please remember today's meeting (17:00-17:30). Please also see the following message below.
> Best regards,
>      Wilf. Genest
>      CUCBC Hon. Sec.
> It has come to our attention that you have been emailed about an eligibility decision concerning St Edmund's W1.
> In the interests of transparency please find below the reasons and timescale behind the decision making process. These have been expressly detailed to St Edmund's in their correspondence with us.
> The situation concerns a person associated with St Edmund's that they would like to compete in their W1 in bumps. This was first brought to our attention by their captain in an email on 19th January where they requested permission for a Fellow to row in their W1, a request that, if confirmed, would be permitted as this is their only womens'  crew in bumps. However it was later clarified, and has subsequently been reconfirmed on more that one occasion by St. Edmund's College authorities, that this person is not a Fellow and therefore further clarification was requested, in particular as to whether they are a paid employee of the college (which is the only other accepted category of 'exceptional' rower for non-students). An email received from their Senior Treasurer on 26th January provided all the necessary information to confirm that the person concerned was not of the status (Fellow or bona fide College employee) that is required to accept an 'exceptional rower' request, and we therefore made and promulgated the decision that the request was rejected, along with the reasons, on that same day. We also advised at that point, and have subsequently repeated this advice, that St Edmund's should search amongst other College boat clubs for excess rowers, who would be eligible to compete in their W1 as this is their only boat.
> Therefore we refute in the strongest terms the allegation that the request was not addressed or responded to in a timely basis. St Edmund's BC have subsequently repeatedly appealed this decision, including escalating this with an email from their Master, but our assessment and response has remained the same. There can be no claim that the decision was made very late, rather St Edmund's seem to be simply refusing to accept the decision made, and carrying on regardless assuming that a new decision will somehow be made in their favour however close it is to the races starting.
> The reasons for this decision are as follows:
>   1.  Existing rules are clear on the eligibility of Fellows and bona fide College employees, and the person concerned, as admitted by St Edmund's College authorities, is neither a Fellow nor an employee of St Edmund's.
>   2.  Opening up the eligibility criteria to allow for non-specific people associated with colleges would allow a very large number of people loosely associated with a college to compete without restriction in bumps. Indeed, in recent years several directly parallel requests for people who are partners/spouses of bona fide students or Fellows, or people who are genuine 'supporters' of the College but with no formal employed position, have been rejected. To allow the current request would clearly be unfair to the Colleges affected by those decisions, and in contradiction of those decisions.
>   3.  Bumps is primarily a STUDENT competition. The rules as have been laid out over many years represent the wishes of the members of CUCBC (i.e. including you, the captains) in ensuring that it remains so.
>   4.  Many such requests have been rejected in the past on the same basis. Changing the rules on the basis of a single entrant would invalidate the justification behind the precedent that has been established and applied for many years.
>   5.  The separate precedent that St Edmund's Master presented to us - that of a Master's wife being allowed to compete in a lower boat - was a case that was specifically permitted at the time with approval of the then captains on the grounds that it would not provide future and wider eligibility for other partners. This was also approximately 20 years ago.
>   6.  St Edmund's were offered every chance and assistance to find another rower from the pool of people without a boat from other colleges. We can cite many other cases of crews finding eligible people without a crew at their own college who would wish to join a club with a guaranteed bumps place. Failure to find someone represents a failure on their part to accommodate or accept a compromise which has been offered to them. There is a large pool of competent and keen rowers from GoR crews who would be willing to take up this seat in their crew.
>   7.  Arguments proposed on the basis of the age and (lack of) experience of the person concerned are not relevant; the simple decision that had to be made is whether the person concerned is eligible under the rules, and this is clearly not the case.
>   8.  Likewise, it has to remain the responsibility of each club to ensure that they either train up sufficient rowers from their own college, or find association with others available from other colleges within the rules, to be able to field valid entries to the competitions they wish to be involved in. While we sympathise with the challenge this can be for small clubs, eligibility rules are common to all competitions, and have to be applied equally (without fear or favour) to all clubs entering.
>   9.  We note that, should captains wish to propose a rule change that would allow approval of a request such as that of St Edmund's in future, then such a rule would therefore have to allow eligibility for 'anyone with a partner who is a student or a Fellow at, or with other strong but informal (including social) relationship with, the College applying'. Clearly, as well as being very hard to enforce (for instance, it would appear to give eligibility to all College supervisors!), this would be a significant change from the current rules and precedents and, as such, would require scrutiny by the Senior Committee. It is not possible to bring in such a rule at this notice for this Lents as (a) no motion has been proposed to do so within the time limits specified in the Constitution, and (b) to do so would breach the general principle we have to operate under that decisions must apply equally to all College clubs (as clearly other clubs have had no access to such potential members).
> The purpose of our decision is not to penalise one small club, it is based on clear precedents that have been applied to all your clubs in the past. When we do make a decision such as this, which may result in a club having difficulty in fielding a full crew, we offer advice and assistance in finding an alternative solution that is within the rules. This process is needed to protect the fairness and fun of the competition for every generation of students that comes through the University.
> Regards
> CUCBC Committee
> __________
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> captains at lists.cucbc.org
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