After more than a year in limbo, the University of Pennsylvania’s Hunting, Archery, and Shooting Club is officially a recognized student group. Under pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and FIRE Legal Network attorney and Conrad O'Brien partner, Patricia Hamill, the university relented this week and processed the group’s registration. FIRE called on Penn to stop engaging in viewpoint discrimination and promptly recognize the club.
In March 2020, a group of Penn students applied to register the Hunting, Archery, and Shooting Club. Despite Penn’s ostensible commitment to students’ rights and the students meeting all necessary criteria for club recognition, the club’s application languished for over a year, even as other groups received approval. Penn claimed that due to the “nature of the group’s mission,” it could not make an approval decision until the university returned to normal operations because of concerns that the group would need to meet in person. However, other groups that intended to meet in person, such as the surfing club, were approved during the pandemic.
A delayed approval meant that the club was denied the full array of university resources to fundraise, advertise, host virtual events, and grow its membership as an official Penn student organization. By putting off its registration for so long, Penn prevented the group from meaningfully participating within the Penn academic community.
The hunting club told FIRE they were grateful for the Office of Student Affairs’ support once the registration was approved: “We would also like to thank FIRE, our counsel Patricia Hamill and Joe Jesiolowski, and everyone else who supported us along the way.”