Opinion: communication about fundraising restrictions was poorly handled

Sophie Trist

“Yeah, I’d like a cupcake. How much?”

“A dollar.”

“I don’t have any cash on me.”

“That’s okay, we take Venmo.”

I’ve heard this conversation dozens of times as I passed various fundraisers for different organizations around campus. It’s a conversation I’ve had as I manned my own club’s table.

In this age of debit cards and online payment apps, most college students don’t carry cash on a daily basis. My wallet hardly ever has green paper in it. The ATM machines on campus are from smaller local banks, so they are not accessible to many students. In the last two fundraisers I’ve been involved in, my organization received half of our money through Venmo. Use of these payment apps has been ubiquitous on campus for several years; it’s hard to believe the administration is just now catching on.

That’s why I was completely blind-sided when I received an email stating that student organizations cannot use Venmo, PayPal and Square, because these apps don’t meet the guidelines of the Payment Card Industry Council and are thus not secured against card holder information theft.

This is a valid concern, and I’m glad that Loyola takes our financial protection seriously. However, I have a problem with the way this restriction is being enforced very suddenly, out of nowhere.

The email quoted an exerpt from the student organization handbook, but let’s be real, no one reads a forty-page handbook just like no one reads the Terms of Service on Apple and Amazon.

Prohibitions against payment apps have never been discussed at SGA summits where organization leaders learn how to manage club finances. They have never been mentioned when students are chartering new organizations. They have never, to my knowledge, been mentioned by student organization advisors.

To reiterate, I agree that organization funds should not be channeled through personal bank accounts. However, if Loyola doesn’t want to severely reduce the fundraising power of its student organizations, it needs to make dealing with club finances less complicated and convoluted.

I’ve been a leader of a student organization since my freshman year, and I still find it difficult to navigate the minefield that is depositing and withdrawing money from our school account. Loyola needs to improve communication between the administration and student groups so that things like the Venmo restrictions don’t just come out of the blue and catch us unaware with no alternative fundraising strategy in place.