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SGB proposes gender neutral elections code

SGB proposes gender neutral elections code


President Natalie Dall led the Student Government Board's last meeting of the year on Tuesday evening | William Miller, Senior Staff Photographer



Leo Dornan
/ Staff Writer

December 7, 2016

Student Government Board ended 2016 with an eye toward future projects in January:  introducing the new First Year Council and proposing a new bill that makes the elections code clearer and more progressive.

Board Bill 41 proposes revisions to the student elections code to use only gender neutral pronouns and make the document easier to read. Elections Chair Julia Lee worked with her committee over the past semester to review the document, which lays out the rules and regulations for running SGB. As soon as the elections committee positions were filled in September, they wanted to make some needed edits to the code.

This meant making many grammatical and stylistic changes as well as rearranging paragraphs and sections into a more logical order. SGB also changed the document to all gender neutral pronouns, following similar changes made last year to the governing code.

“The main goal was to make the document easier to read and understand,” Lee said. “It should make sense read from beginning to end.”

The biggest edit to the document clarified how candidates running for SGB positions could change their campaign managers and campaign staff. Presently, there are no guidelines for how a candidate could make these changes during the campaign for SGB. With the new bill, in order to change campaign managers, the campaign must submit a statement to the Elections Chair confirming the change and stating the reasons for the change. Campaigns will have until one week after the campaign begins to make the changes. Next semester, this falls in early February.

“[Candidates] can look at a section and find all the info they need,” Lee said. “Before, changing campaign managers wasn’t officially an option.”

SGB wanted to introduce the new bill to close out the semester but waived the reading of the bill to save time during finals, SGB President Natalie Dall said. SGB will vote on Board Bill 41 at the first public meeting in January.

“The bill will help clarify the elections process,” Dall said. “It should be easier to use for anyone wanting to run for SGB.”

In addition, SGB announced the appointments for the newly formed First Year Council. The Council replaces the SGB internship — meaning council members will help board members with specific, individualized projects — and encourages first-years to get involved with student government. SGB named the eleven new members: Jessica Chong, Julia McDonald, Ragini Devala, Chelsea Hancock, Janice Im, Matthew Jones, Grace Kim, Salina Pressimone, Elizabeth Profozich, Noah Rubin and Natalie Simmons.

Dall and Vice President and Chief of Cabinet Rohit Anand interviewed the applicants on Sunday, narrowing down a field of thirty.

“We initially interviewed eighteen people for ten positions,” Dall said. “But we couldn’t decide between the last two, so now we have eleven.”

The idea for the Council originated from Penn State’s own version, which they described at the PASS conference held at Pitt in October. The PSU representatives sold the benefits of having a First Year Council, Anand said. Council members will act as resources for SGB members’ initiatives and also provide input to the various committees.

“This is a really good way to get more people into SGB,” Anand said. “We will also get more ideas and perspectives.”

Anand and SGB Chief of Staff Phil Anderson will oversee the Council and ensure they start smoothly. The Council will have an orientation in January that will further explain their responsibilities and help them set goals for the semester. Currently each Council member will be expected to sit on a different Committee and provide their own input.

Dall hopes the experience will be rewarding for the first-year students and also enrich SGB. Dall hopes creating a council specifically for first-years can provide a less intimidating way to get into student government.

“It’s an easy way for first-year students to get involved,” Dall said. “They can share their own perspectives and ideas as a part of SGB.”

Allocations:

Pitt PantheRaas: Pitt PantheRaas requested $2,031.66 for transport and lodging at their annual competition. The Board approved in full.

Lady Panther Lacrosse: Lady Panther Lacrosse requested $10,997.48 for airfare and lodging for the Santa Barbara Shootout tournament. The Board approved $10,620.08.

Pitt Ski and Snowboard Team: Pitt Ski and Snowboard Team requested $1,525 for tournament registration. The Board approved $400.

Pitt Nrityamala: Pitt Nrityamala placed three different requests for $1,721, $1,642 and $1,914.20 for three competitions. The Board approved $1,718.60, $1,581.64 and $1,679.64 respectively.

Asha for Education and Hindu Student Council: Asha for Education and HSC requested $7,392.62 for their annual concert. After much discussion, the Board approved $6,079.62.

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