Breaking down Drexel’s Club Sports Tier System | The Triangle

Breaking down Drexel’s Club Sports Tier System

Photo by Evie Touring | The Triangle

As a student at Drexel University, participating in a club is a great way to engage with peers and spend time doing something that you are interested in or love. In recent years, a club sports tier system was implemented in Drexel’s club sports community, which has made club requirements more difficult and dreadful for students to deal with, including the SAFAC allocation process. Because of the changes, the stress resulting from adhering to the tier system has significantly impacted my mental health and the same goes for many other members of club sports.

I am a student athlete myself and heavily involved with the Drexel Ski and Snowboard Team’s executive board. My responsibility on the ski team is to manage our social media presence, plan events outside of competitions, coordinate with the fundraising chair to spread awareness on upcoming fundraisers and contribute to executive board decisions.

Since the implementation of the tier system in 2022, what is supposed to be a manageable responsibility has become a stressful, time-consuming position on top of being a competitor as well. The team relies on some of my responsibilities to ensure we remain a certain “status” on the tier system club sports implemented.

In this article, I will be breaking down the most significant parts of the Club Sports Tier System document that heavily contributed to a decline in my mental health and that of my team.

The purpose of the tier system is stated in Article 1 in the document: “Drexel University recognizes a broad spectrum of Club Sports. All Club Sports are unique and have different needs. This Tier System will outline different levels of responsibilities and requirements and highlight the corresponding benefits awarded to each Club Sport upon completion.”

In Article 3 of the document, it also mentions the criteria each club sport will be evaluated on. “All Club Sports will be evaluated in five categories during the year. These categories are number of competitions, number of Dragon Development Meetings attended, accountability points accumulated, fundraising, and community service.”

In the chart depicted below, it shows what tier your club would be based on the five deciding factors mentioned before. If your team is in the red tier for more than two years, your club will no longer be recognized.

Accountability Points

The categories that really take a toll on my mental health are the last three: “Accountability Points,” “Fundraising” and “Community Service.”

You can earn accountability points for your team in numerous ways. There are easy routes to take to earn points for your team. Having a discipline-free year gets your club 20 points. Or participating in community service, which is already a requirement, gets your club 30 points. And even doing officer training by the deadline gets your club 30 points added to your accountability score.

However, even with all three of those accountability point scenarios added together, to receive gold tier status your team would still need to accumulate over 40 more points. You and your team must go the extra mile to receive those.

Personally, I thought it would be a good idea to manage posting weekly every term. Your team gets 20 points for posting weekly. But as a full-time student who is also a student journalist on the side, managing a weekly post adds up to be a lot. In the fall, I also undergo the co-op interview process. In the winter, I am in my competitive season for the team. And in the spring and summer, content becomes hard to post because our season comes to a close after five to eight weeks into the winter.

The weight of taking the time to curate posts, hoping the content I create is engaging, actively managing our social media accounts, and comparing our team’s performance to other teams so that my team can earn accountability points to stay afloat in the gold-tier status becomes a draining task when posting weekly. My mental state is also heavily impacted by social media in general, so not having an option to post content I am proud of on my own schedule and instead enduring the pressure to frequently post really takes a toll on me.


This chart also mentions that to obtain gold tier status for your team, you must fundraise at least 20 percent of your team’s SAFAC request. My team’s SAFAC request totaled to be about $9,000. That means that we must fundraise over $1,800 to remain in the gold tier. If anyone is familiar with doing fundraisers with Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, Board and Brew, Saxbys and other organizations that are similar, you know that you only receive 20-30% of the total fundraised if your organization meets the required minimum raised. 

Mia Tomlinson, former competitor and treasurer of the ski team, mentioned in a statement, “the fundraising is also flawed because it’s us spending $10-15 for food, for example, for only a small portion of that to go to the club. It would be more efficient to just give the club the $15.”

Most of the participants going to the ski team’s fundraisers have been the athletes and some alumni, usually the fundraised amount received totals to about $15-$30. There are only so many times your team and alumni can support you at an expensive fast food joint before interest wanes and your efforts add up to nothing.

Last year, my team attempted other ways to hold engaging fundraisers like raffling off a snowboard or creating a bake sale, but Club Sports did not approve because these types of fundraisers were not in accordance with the rules and regulations at the time.

Any student at Drexel knows how expensive the tuition is. Asking my teammates to consistently come out to expensive food joints to support their team when they already have team dues plus the possibility of rent, food, class materials and much more makes me feel guilty, especially when there is a possibility that we will not even receive a penny from the fundraiser.

Community Service

The last category on the chart, community service, states that the total amount of hours of community service accumulated should average to be 10 hours per person to qualify for the gold tier status. The ski team has over 40 members on the team. That means one or more persons on the team must accumulate over 400 hours of service to qualify for the gold tier status.

This is a huge stressor for me and my fellow executive board members because we all have different, busy schedules and we definitely do not have an average of 400 hours lying around to participate in community service when we are in classes or co-op under the fast-paced quarter system. This category makes achieving the gold tier status feel impossible to me and over time has dwindled my mental health.

You may be asking yourself, why break your back to achieve the gold tier status? In the chart below, it shows the benefits of having gold tier status.

Practice and home event scheduling does not apply to my team because the ski and snowboard team does not have an on-campus slope to practice on and all of our competitions are away at local ski resorts. But the funding request is extremely crucial to us. As I mentioned before, our SAFAC request was about $9,000 this year. We partake in an incredibly expensive sport and are required to follow certain rules imposed by club sports and United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association that requires us to afford huge expenses like lift tickets, hotel rooms for every competition and athlete registration fees. 

Even if my team is granted the entirety of our SAFAC request, our team dues still add up to over $450 per athlete. It also seems unfair to me that even if we work to have the gold tier status, 100% of the team’s SAFAC request is not guaranteed. It is crucial that we attempt to obtain gold tier status so we have a better chance of receiving all of our SAFAC requests. Otherwise, our dues must be raised which could force many athletes who love the sport to refrain from returning to the ski team. Also, if our team does not receive gold, our already stressful responsibilities on the executive board will become positions that are mentally unmanageable and could force members to step down from their positions.

Jocelyn Conroe, former President of the ski team, shared a quick statement on what she thought of the tier system.

“I think it was a wacky system with good intent- trying to hold us to the standards of varsity teams. Just stressful due to lack of support,” said Conroe.

Stewart Conley, the current Treasurer of the ski team, has also been mentally impacted by the tier system. 

“The tier system has put a lot of stress on the team and the e-board. I know that the tier system was well intentioned and was meant to keep the clubs in check, but making this the only way in which we can receive the money we require to run the club is what really makes the system stressful. The money we receive from SAFAC covers only a fraction of what we need to run the club and then it could be cut even more if we do not get into a high enough tier. The clubs are a place of stress relief for a lot of people, myself included, and the tier system takes that away,” added Conley.

Though it makes sense to put in effort to receive the gold tier perks, the way the tier system is setup currently is a draining responsibility that I have tried to manage for the past two years. Hopefully, some of the requirements dilute to make it seem more incentivizing.

This article is part of a grant awarded to The Triangle from the Solutions Journalism Network investigating student mental health at Drexel University.