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(From left to right) Junior Evan Bean, junior Athul Nair, and sophomore Charlie Schumer will serve as Chair, Vice Chair, and Communication Director of the Student Activities Council. (Photos from Evan Bean, Athul Nair, and Charlie Schumer)

The Student Activities Council, one of Penn's six student governing branches, has elected a new board to oversee the funding of student groups.

Engineering junior Evan Bean will serve as the new SAC chair following the group's Oct. 28 board elections. College junior Athul Nair will serve as vice chair, and College sophomore Charlie Schumer will serve as communications director.

As SAC chair, Bean will be responsible for overseeing the distribution of funds to the 230+ SAC-recognized student groups. Bean said that a priority of his during his term will be to educate student groups on SAC’s funding guidelines, which detail what SAC can fund for student groups.

Bean, who previously served on the SAC executive board, said that in the past, groups that applied for funding have either requested funds for things that SAC cannot fund — such as food — or have not requested money they were eligible to receive because of a lack of awareness about the guidelines.

Bean said that the other main focus of his term as chair will be helping to manage the reserve fund. The SAC reserve fund includes money that student groups were allocated but did not spend during the year. That unspent money returns to the SAC reserve fund at the end of the year. 

In some years, the reserve fund is used to bail out branches of student government that overspend. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many groups did not spend their allocated funding over the past two years, Bean said, creating a large reserve fund.

Penn Student Government proposed several initiatives at the end of the last school year to spend the reserve fund, including the Social Life and Inclusion Fund. Bean said that the new fund will allow students from underrepresented groups on campus to apply for funding for social events that historically white organizations like Greek life typically have their own funding for. 

“They have the opportunity to have social events, and we feel as though underrepresented groups should, as well,” Bean said.

Bean said that his term will also see the resumption of new group recognition, the process through which student groups can apply to become members of SAC and, therefore, eligible for more funding.

Recognition was frozen last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. As vice chair, Nair will lead the new group recognition process, which has closed for this year after receiving more than 30 applications, Bean said. SAC will accept groups in December following the review process, he added.

“I would just love to see all these groups get recognized and finally get some funding — some money under their belt,” Nair said.

As communications director, Schumer will coordinate between the executive board and SAC groups. Schumer said that because the rules of SAC funding can be confusing for member groups, he wanted to become communications director to clarify the funding process and rules for SAC groups.

“I think that a lot of people maybe don't exactly know what's required, which makes it difficult for them to get the funding they need or get it in a timely manner, and if, as an executive board, we can be doing a better job to communicate those expectations and present them in a more digestible manner, then people will be able to access these funds a lot better,” Schumer said.