Pomona College in Claremont, California, sponsored up to 70 students to attend an anti-Trump rally over the weekend.
The rally, called “United Against Hate,” was one of hundreds of marches that took place around the country after Donald Trump’s election. Now there’s word that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) might have reason to look into the school’s involvement.
On November 14th, news broke that Pomona College’s Draper Center for Community Partnerships paid for its students’ transportation to and expenses accrued during a “United Against Hate” rally in Los Angeles.
However, the school organization may have violated Pomona College’s 501 (c)(3) non-profit status by funding it with tuition dollars.
In an opinion piece for The Claremont Independent, a student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute, Pomona College students Matthew Reade and Ross Steinberg, spell out the case that Pomona may not be able to get away with this form of political engagement. The center is 98% funded by Pomona College student fees.
The center’s mission, as described on their website, is to foster,
“…mutually beneficial exchanges between Pomona College and the larger community of which we are a part. We do this by connecting community members, students, faculty, and staff in support of educational outreach, community-based research and learning, and other community engagement activities.”
That might have been alright if the school wasn’t prohibited by law in taking part in partisan activities.
In Reade and Steinberg’s op-ed, they write, in part,
“Although Donald Trump’s official candidacy for the 2016 general election ended on November 8th, he began accepting donations for his 2020 primary campaign on the 9th, the same day Pomona College’s Draper Center began organizing and reimbursing transportation to anti-Trump rallies. According to federal guidelines, this makes Mr. Trump a political candidate.”
The two students also reference an email blast from the school administration that seems to convey Pomona’s explicit political leanings, as well.
Curiouser and curiouser… pic.twitter.com/of6fixvbXc
— ClaremontIndependent (@CmontInd) November 14, 2016
The series of marches throughout the U.S. which include the L.A. event have included protesters chanting popular phrases like #NotMyPresident and carrying signs reading “Love Trumps Hate.”
On the United Against Hate website, it says:
“Donald Trump wants to take our country back to a time when fear excused violence, when greed fueled discrimination, and when the state wrote prejudiced against marginalized communities into law.”
“His rhetoric and policy proposals exclude, degrade, and harm: Mexican and Latino people, black people, Muslim people, LGBTQ people, Women and their health care providers, Asian people…
But wait, there’s more…
“…refugees, People with disabilities, Working class people, American prisoners of war…”
And just in case they were forgetting anyone at all…
“…and those of countless other marginalized communities.”
Whether Pomona College will actually face scrutiny from the IRS — or not — remains to be seen.
Update [11/17/16, 10:18 a.m. ET]: The Claremont Independent is reporting that an individual has filed an official complaint with the Internal Revenue Service in response to the news that Pomona College funded students to attend an anti-Trump rally while under a tax-exempt federal status.
David Oxtoby, President of Pomona College, released a statement continuing to deny any wrongdoing:
“The Draper Center for Community Partnerships is committed to fostering civic engagement among students, and our students engage in various community based courses, programs, projects and events across Southern California. Transportation is typically part of our support for student engagement, as was the case with the recent rallies. The College does not consider this to be activity in support of a political campaign.”