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Student groups cannot match donations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement with the funds allocated through their SAC accounts. Credit: Kylie Cooper

While several student groups have pledged to match donations to bail funds and racial justice groups after the police murder of George Floyd, the Office of Student Affairs announced that student groups cannot match donations with the funds allocated through their Student Activities Council accounts.

OSA Associate Director of Activities Rodney Robinson emailed SAC-funded groups on Tuesday, informing them that “funds which have been deposited with the University cannot be used to provide donations to charitable organizations due to the University’s designation as a non-profit organization.”

Robinson did not respond to a request for comment.

Rising College junior and SAC Chair Grayson Peters said student groups who generate revenue through performances, ticket sales, or other ways of raising funds could use that money towards donations, but only if the funds are stored in an account separate from their University one. 

Money deposited in a University account, even if the money was raised by the student group itself, Peters said, cannot be donated.

Rising College senior and Penn Band treasurer David Fernandez said not being able to access funds from their SAC account has complicated the Penn Band's initial plans to match donations, which they had originally planned to do through the account.

He said Penn Band now plans to pool money from current members and alumni, and use that money to match donations up to a certain amount that will be dedicated towards organizations such as Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union, or local bail funds.

Although he understands that the University allocates money to student groups for particular purposes, Fernandez said he was frustrated that OSA did not provide alternatives for how groups might be able to donate a portion of their leftover money that has not been used after the University shut on-campus operations in mid-March.

“We have members who want to donate these funds, they want to see this money used, but the University is not giving access to it,” Fernandez said.

Penn Masti, a fusion dance team, has also initiated a matching effort that, including the matching donations from alumni, has raised $43,000 for the Black Lives Matter Foundation, and is in the process of raising up to $30,000 for the NAACP, Rising Wharton junior and Penn Masti Captain Divya Ramamurthy said.

The team had thought about accessing the nearly $300 in remaining University funds and leftover revenue in their SAC account, Rising College senior and Penn Masti member Simran Chand said, so members were disappointed that they could not access those funds. 

“I think if we had the ability to donate our SAC money that would be so incredible, but it's also really awesome that we have been able to find alum who can help us raise money in other ways,” Chand said.