The Pitt News

Meet the Student Government Board

The+SGB+board+members++for+the+upcoming+academic+year+take+a+group+photo+at+their+inauguration.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Sydney+Harper+
The SGB board members  for the upcoming academic year take a group photo at their inauguration. Photo Courtesy of Sydney Harper

The SGB board members for the upcoming academic year take a group photo at their inauguration. Photo Courtesy of Sydney Harper

The SGB board members for the upcoming academic year take a group photo at their inauguration. Photo Courtesy of Sydney Harper

By Tomasz Swierzewski / For The Pitt News

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The members of Pitt’s incoming Student Government Board share their plans with The Pitt News.

At a retreat tucked away in southern Pennsylvania, the new members of Pitt’s Student Government Board prepared for a year of working together and making changes.

“We went over the governing code, trained everybody, did some team-building and a ropes course,” Max Knies, vice president and chief of finance, said. “We also had a transition meeting with the old SGB where we talked about projects, initiatives and what they were [and/or] weren’t able to complete.”

SGB, the political organization on campus that advocates for and implements the needs of students, is made up of a president, two vice presidents and eight other board members. The vice presidents each assume the role of either chief of finance or chief of cabinet. The vice executive president position,  filled by Sydney Harper,  is separate from the vice president role and goes to the board member who received the most votes total.

Natalie Dall, incoming SGB president and senior molecular biology major, won 65 percent of the vote, with 1,714 students choosing her over her opponent Matt Sykes.

SGB’s Allocations Committee handles a portion of the $2.6 million in allocations funds by deciding which student groups on campus will get how much and how often.

Even if your daily interactions with SGB are limited, you should know who’s handling so much of your money, making important decisions — like whether or not to keep Market open 24/7 — and meeting with administrators on your behalf.

President Natalie Dall

Natalie Dall was previously the vice president and chief of cabinet. In these roles, she served as the liaison between the board and committees, wrote weekly reports of the board’s activities and wrote monthly performance statements for each board member.

“I first got involved with SGB because it seemed like a great way to become engaged with the Pitt community and make changes on campus that impacted each student,” Dall said.

In this year’s election, 2,665 students voted, a drastic drop from the 2014 election, where 4,127 students voted.

“For next year, I really hope to make SGB more visible on campus and get more students involved with what we do and giving feedback on the decisions we make,” Dall said.

Although the president manages the board members, serves as an advocate to the student body and is a student representative on various councils and committees, she can also develop her own initiatives and assist her colleagues with theirs’.

“[I] really want to work with different board members on improving sexual assault resources on campus and improving academic advising,” Dall said.

Dall’s platform during her campaign was largely based on creating a more cohesive sexual assault manual, as well as improving sexual assault education and reporting on campus, but it also included increased access to academic resources

“I’m definitely excited for everything to start getting planned this summer and for the fall semester,” Dall said. “We have a really passionate group that’s going to do an amazing job.”

Sydney Harper

Key plans: academic and student group accessibility, diversity initiatives

Sydney Harper, a senior political science and communication major, will be the vice executive president for SGB this year.

Last year, Harper worked as a Pathfinder, which she will continue doing. She has also worked for The Pitt News as the multimedia editor, interned at Student Affairs, mentored for Pitt Women’s Leadership Experience and sang in choirs.

Some of Harper’s biggest plans revolve around Pitt’s Year of Diversity.

“I’d like to work on a week for women’s history … It would be a good time to get things like this started and make them a tradition for the next year and years after that,” Harper said. “I also want to create a publication or a space for students from different cultural groups to discuss issues in the world. The name I’ve been using for it is ‘This Week In Color.’”

As the former multimedia editor for The Pitt News, Harper wants to improve accessibility to film and camera equipment for students.

“Students might need to make some promotional material, or film a video for a project, but I don’t want them to rely on their phones or their friends for a camera,“ Harper said.

She’s basing her initiatives on input from the array of organizations she’s interacted with at the University.

“I wanted to become a board member as a result of my conversations with students involved with different parts of Pitt,” Harper said, noting possible opportunities for broadcast and journalism certificates. “I thought that through my experiences… I could bring those things together and do some cool stuff for students at Pitt.”

Rohit Anand

Key plan: improve safety on campus

Rohit Anand, a senior double major in neuroscience and psychology, is the vice president and chief of cabinet of the new SGB. Anand previously served as the facilities and transportation chair.

As the chief of cabinet, Anand will be the liaison between the Board and the committees.

In the upcoming year, his personal initiatives involve the intersection between transportation and safety.  He also wants to make the results of OMETs publicly available.

“I want to improve
SafeRider and safety on campus in general,” Anand said. “This is in addition to the academic initiatives I’m working on with Joseph Kannarkat … [including] public OMETs — which were mostly his idea — and expanding study spaces on campus.”

Max Knies   

Key plan: simplify allocations    

Max Knies, a junior majoring in finance and accounting, will be the vice president and chief of finance this year.

Previously, Knies was the vice chair of the allocations committee, which deals with the distribution of funds to student clubs and organizations, and he plans to make it his focus while he’s in office.

“A lot of students interact with the allocations process, and we want to make sure it’s easy for them to use it,” Knies said.

Knies isn’t waiting until the fall semester to step into his new role as COF.

“I hope I can make a positive impact, and I’ve been looking at what’s done at other universities like campus catering,” Knies added. “I’ll be back in Pittsburgh early June, and I don’t want to make this a dead summer.”

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Meet the Student Government Board