Dean of students updates student org naming guidelines


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner announced on Tuesday that student organizations affected by the new SORC naming guidelines will be able to sell remaining non-compliant marketing material until April 30, 2021.

By Benjamin Nigrosh, Assistant News Editor

Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner announced in a Tuesday letter to Student Government Board President Zechariah Brown that independent student organizations affected by the new Student Organization Resource Center naming guidelines will be allowed to sell the remainder of their non-compliant marketing materials before April 30, 2021.

“However, all new merchandise and materials must comply with University policy and guidelines,” Bonner said in the release.

SORC announced in late August that beginning in fall 2020, its registration guidelines would prohibit the names of independent student organizations from including University trademarks or wordmarks like “Pitt” and “Panther,” instead encouraging clubs to use phrases such as “at Pitt” or “at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Following backlash from student groups, SGB released three possible solutions to the issue at its Nov. 6, 2019, meeting. Its preferred solution is to utilize SORC to approve names and marketing materials for clubs that want to “co-brand” with the University — allowing the use of University trademarks or wordmarks as long as sponsorship is not implied or stated. Following a late January meeting between Brown and SORC Coordinator Lynne Miller, SGB’s proposals were brought directly to Bonner for review. 

According to the Tuesday letter, independent student organizations that were founded and registered with SORC before August 2005 will be given the opportunity to request an exemption from the new naming guidelines. The deadline to apply for an exemption is Sept. 30.

If exempt, the organizations are required to include either “Club” or “Student Organization” in their name and on all marketing materials, the release said.

University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the number of independent student organizations registered with SORC prior to August 2005 was not immediately available.