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From Penn Figure Skating Club

For almost two years, the Penn Figure Skating Club has fought to receive University funding. Time and time again, it has been turned away.

The Penn Figure Skating Club, comprised of almost 40 active members, is in a difficult position compared to most other clubs on campus. Although the skating club is recognized by the Student Activities Council, it cannot receive SAC funding. 

According to the SAC website, "earning SAC recognition provides groups with access to SAC funding as well as a budget code and bank account in [the Office of Student Affairs]." However, because the skating club is recognized as both a recreational and competing activity, it has to receive its funding from the Sports Club Council — a subdivision of Penn Recreation — rather than from SAC. In other words, SAC cannot provide funding for the club. 

Sports clubs that are part of the SCC allow their members to hold practices several times a week, as well as to compete against surrounding schools in designated leagues and tournaments, according to its website

In a Nov. 25 email from SAC Vice Chair and New Group Recognition Director and College and Wharton senior Nikita Sood to Figure Skating Club President and College senior Chiara Bettale, Sood wrote, “It is SAC’s policy to only recognize competitive sports groups that are also recognized by their umbrella organization: Sports Club Council (SCC). This is to control costs and allocate practice space fairly." 

“Upon reading through your group's mission and we concluded that your group would be considered a competitive sports group and therefore must seek SCC recognition (through which your group would be able to gain SAC funding)," Sood added. 

Bettale responded to Sood's email saying that although the club was interested in competing in the future, its foremost priority was to receive enough funding to be able to skate recreationally together as a club. 

"After all the effort to gather enough skaters in the past 3 years here at Penn, it is a real pity to find out that the only obstacle to pursue our club aims is completely out of our control," she wrote back. 

Sood explained that Penn Recreation recently implemented a moratorium temporarily blocking any new groups from receiving financial support due to a lack of available funding within the SCC. 

“We have been trying to become SCC recognized in the past two years, but the moratorium does not seem to allow new groups any time soon,” Bettale said. “We tried to apply for SAC without being SCC recognized, and they recognized our value as a club, but they kindly rejected us because we do not meet one technical qualification which is that we are not in SCC.”

Bettale explained that as a senior, it is extremely frustrating knowing that she will graduate without reaping the benefits of all of her hard work. 

“It’s just a very unfortunate situation,” she said.

When Bettale arrived on campus as a freshman, Penn’s Figure Skating Club was barely in existence. There were no skaters during designated practice hours and no official elections for the club's board.

But by the beginning of her junior year, Bettale said she was able to reinvent and stimulate the growth of the club. 

"I just started asking any skater I could find if they would want to be part of a Penn skating club," she said. “I’m very satisfied with what we have accomplished so far.” 

However, she also added that there is more work to be done and that funding is key to growing the club. 

From Penn Figure Skating Club

Currently, the club cannot afford to reserve private slots at the ice rink because each one costs around $400. Although there are designated time slots for anyone to come and skate for fun at the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, these time slots are often infrequent and inconvenient. 

In addition, each hour-long freestyle session, where trained skaters can practice, costs $10 per person, making it unaffordable for club members on a regular basis. 

Bettale said University funding would help to cover the costs of the freestyle sessions so that the club could skate together on a weekly basis without financial restraints. 

College junior and Chair of the Student Activities Committee Michael Krone said members of SAC are trying to find a way to solve the moratorium crisis, but did not immediately indicate if Penn Figure Skating would be able to receive funding. 

"Any sports clubs that want to form should be able to, and a lack of facilities shouldn't mean that students can't pursue their interests and passions," Krone said. "That just doesn't seem right."