Six months after its creation, the Princeton Open Campus Coalition is now considering recognition from the University as an officially registered student group, according to Thomas Dunne, deputy dean of Undergraduate Students.
According to Dunne, a campus student-run organization that uses “Princeton” in its group name needs to register with the University and be affiliated with the University. Dunne said that ODUS plans to clarify this policy over the summer.
Dunne noted that he discussed the registration process with members of POCC on Wednesday.
The POCC is a student group co-founded in November 2015 by Joshua Zuckerman ’16 and nine other individuals. According to a description on its Facebook page, the POCC’s goal is to protect the “diversity of thought and the right of all students to advance their academic and personal convictions in a manner free from intimidation.”
According to Zuckerman, since POCC’s birth, the administration has never objected to POCC’s use of the word “Princeton” in its name. Furthermore, he stated that he believes the group’s name is not in violation of University policies.
The term “student organization” is never clearly defined in “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” Zuckerman explained.
“Under ODUS's own rules, we do not qualify as a student organization because ‘RRR’ says ‘student organizations’ rather than ‘students,’ he noted.
“We have never used the Princeton shield or attempted to financially profit off use of the word 'Princeton,'” Zuckerman added.
Earlier this spring, Zuckerman, on behalf of the coalition, delivered a testimony about the state of free speech at the University to the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington, DC.
Aleksandra Czulak ’17, Undergraduate Student Government president, declined to comment on whether POCC has violated University policies.
However, she noted that companies, alumni and fellowships who used or tried to use the Princeton name have run into controversies before.
She cited Section 1.4.11 of “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” which states that “no individual or organization may use Princeton University’s name... or any marks that suggest Princeton University or any Princeton University organization, except to the extent such individual or organization has been authorized by the proper University officials or as permitted under trademark law.”
According to Dunne, registering an organization with ODUS comes with several benefits, such as inclusion in the activities fair and eligibility to reserve rooms on campus.
“I can’t really think of a reason why a group would not want to be registered with the University. I think it’s a very clear-end process that’s not particularly onerous,” Dunne said. “I’ve been here 16 years and I can’t think of instances where groups have actively spurned University recognition,” Dunne added.
However, Zuckerman noted that as POCC is a new student group, registering as an official student organization has not been a priority, especially as POCC does not want to receive any University funding.
In an interview with with the Daily Princetonian conducted before his meeting with Dunne on Wednesday, Zuckerman also noted that there are also considerable costs to registering with ODUS.
For instance, all official student groups must have a president and a treasurer, Zuckerman explained.
“We do not wish to restructure ourselves in this manner,” Zuckerman said.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Zuckerman said that Dunne had indicated ODUS's willingness to compromise on the issue of having a president in the meeting.
"We would simply have a 'representative' or 'contact person.' Dean Dunne would not make an exception just for us; he indicated that he wanted to change policy so any organization could choose not to have a president. We would be required to have a treasurer, but we're fine with that," Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman also said that the University Office of Trademark Licensing has not raised issues about the group’s name.
"I don't want to speculate about what actions various University bureaucrats may or may not take in the hypothetical situation in which we don't register as a student group," Zuckerman said.
However, Zuckerman said that during the meeting, Dunne also mentioned that student groups are not allowed to co-sponsor events with outside entities.
"This policy has not been clearly explained or seriously enforced; it's uncertain whether unregistered student groups are outside entities," Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman noted that the Black Justice League, which is not a registered student group, has co-sponsored an event with the Department of African American Studies, and POCC has also co-sponsored events with Whig-Clio.
"Registering will ensure that we will not violate the clarified policy," Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman noted that the POCC has not reached any final decisions on registration.