Money could be used to advocate for cutting ties with Philadelphia police department
The student government at the University of Pennsylvania pledged a quarter of a million dollars “to support programming for Black students at Penn,” according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.
The money comes from a reserve fund of unused student fees maintained by the student government at the Ivy League school in Philadelphia.
“$200,000 will go to Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, with $150,000 of this portion reserved for UMOJA and its coalition groups, which represents Black students on campus. The remaining $50,000 will go to the Center for Africana Studies at Penn to fund research by Black undergraduate students” the Daily Pennsylvanian reported based on an email from Jude Dartey, a student government leader.
The money was allocated on the heels of campus groups demanding the university “decriminalize blackness.”
UMOJA represents “students and student groups of the African Diaspora,” according to the group’s website.
“Since the recent events that revealed the devastating effects of racial injustice in our nation, PSG has been working tirelessly to address the prevalence of racial inequality in our own community,” Dartey said.
“One of the main priorities of PSG has been to make concrete plans that confront the ways in which systems of oppression remain at Penn,” Dartey added.
Janice Owusu, a student government representative, said OMUJA can now use the money to advocate for its demands, including severing the relationship between Penn and the Philadelphia police.
“Owusu said the money allocated to UMOJA will allow the group to promote its demands to the University, which include cutting ties with the Philadelphia police and giving Makuu a space on Locust Walk,” the Daily Pennsylvanian reported. Makuu is a cultural center for black students.
UMOJA demanded in early June that the university cut ties with the Philadelphia police because “the University has directly funded the racist and brutal response of the Philadelphia Police Department to the recent protests.” It also wants the school to “defund the Philadelphia Police Foundation.”
The university announced on June 24 it would no longer buy tickets for the foundation’s fundraiser.
Police Free Penn, a group on campus, circulated a petition in support of disarming the police, ending the school’s practice of including the race of a criminal suspect in its alert system and divesting from companies that make money from the prison-industrial complex, citing food provider Aramark as an example.
Over 15,000 people have signed the petition since it launched soon after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Police Free Penn and several other local groups demonstrated again on August 9 in support of its demands.
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