SORC to block clubs from re-registering next year over updated guidelines

SGB to meet with administrators Friday


Emily Wolfe | Contributing Editor

The University is aiming to instate its new student organization name policy in fall 2020.

By Erica Guthrie and Jon Moss

Independent student organizations — which make up 87% of all clubs on campus — will not be allowed to re-register with the Student Organization Resource Center next fall if they do not comply with updated naming guidelines, the University said.

Last week, Pitt announced updated SORC registration guidelines to student leaders which will block any independent student organization from using University trademarks and wordmarks, like “Pitt” and “Panther” in organization names. There are 393 clubs, or about 62% of all 639 student organizations on campus, currently containing one of these words.

Sponsored student organizations — which have an official association and working relationship with an operating unit of the University and compose 13% of all clubs on campus — are not subject to the guidelines. Independent student organizations would still be able to use the words in their title to identify where the organization is located by wording it as “at Pitt” or “at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Current SORC guidelines prohibit student organizations from acting “in the name of the University,” which means representing the University or representing the organization as an official part of the University.

According to University spokesperson Meg Ringler, the guideline changes follow a summer audit of current SORC guidelines and student organization names that determined many student organizations were not in compliance with existing University policy.

“The review of guidelines and organization names made us aware of the discrepancies in student organization naming,” Ringler said. “As a result of these findings, we provided instructions and updates intended to clarify and ensure compliance with these existing guidelines by the start of the next academic year.”

The exact number of clubs that will be affected by the changes is unclear — University spokesperson Kevin Zwick declined Thursday to provide the names of organizations that fall in each club registration category, despite providing the exact number of organizations in each category to The Pitt News.

“The Office of Student Life and SORC will be conducting an audit over the coming year to confirm those numbers and registration statuses,” Zwick said. “Until this audit is completed and we have confirmation of registration statuses, we are unable to provide the full list.”

SGB President Zechariah Brown, Executive Vice President Anais Peterson and board member Eric Macadangdang will meet Friday with representatives from SORC and Student Life to discuss the guideline changes.

Brown said these organizations see the possible name change as a major change to their branding, marketing and personal reputation. He said SGB’s goal is to allow student organizations to keep the names they currently have.

“We want to address those concerns and we want to allow student organizations to keep the name they have at the moment,” Brown said.

Many student leaders were upset by the updated guidelines, which were first announced at SORC leadership training sessions last week.

Pitt Archery President Julia Lam said she would be upset if her club was not able to use the University’s name or logos at tournaments, citing it as a way to express their Pitt pride.

“I founded the team and am proud of my past 3 years’ work on developing this club’s brand recognition within USA Archery, and changing it now would feel like a loss,” Lam wrote in an email.

Current Pitt Jazz Ensemble President and former Pitt Fencing President Ian Pamerlau said he felt the University’s enforcement of the policy was “not only unfair, but a little insulting.”

“We, the clubs of the University, follow all the rules of the University and effectively are an extension of the University, but do not get the respect of being a part of it,” Pamerlau said in an email.