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SGB candidates push platform before elections

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SGB candidates push platform before elections

The three SGB presidential candidates (from left to right) Justin Horowitz, Arlind Karpuzi and Max Kneis debate in Nordy's Place. Thomas Yang | Staff Photographer

The three SGB presidential candidates (from left to right) Justin Horowitz, Arlind Karpuzi and Max Kneis debate in Nordy's Place. Thomas Yang | Staff Photographer

Thomas J. Yang

The three SGB presidential candidates (from left to right) Justin Horowitz, Arlind Karpuzi and Max Kneis debate in Nordy's Place. Thomas Yang | Staff Photographer

Thomas J. Yang

Thomas J. Yang

The three SGB presidential candidates (from left to right) Justin Horowitz, Arlind Karpuzi and Max Kneis debate in Nordy's Place. Thomas Yang | Staff Photographer

By Grant Burgman / Staff Writer

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In the cutthroat political sphere, competing for votes can — and does — bring out the worst in people.

After all, it was during the final presidential debate that now-President Donald Trump infamously referred to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman,” offering her an unofficial campaign slogan. But in Pitt’s student government debate Wednesday night — the first three-person showdown in three years — junior Justin Horowitz steered clear of mudslinging.

“These are amazing individuals, whom I love dearly,” Horowitz, a marketing and business information systems major, said.

Horowitz was referring to his two competitors: Max Kneis, a junior majoring in finance and accounting, and Arlind Karpuzi, another junior also majoring in finance. All three of the presidential candidates, as well as all 16 candidates for Student Government Board, were in Nordy’s Place Wednesday night at 5 p.m. for the SGB presidential debate.

Despite the debate’s name, moderator Henry Glitz — who is an opinions editor for The Pitt News — did not pose the candidates against one another and questions remained light.

Most of the substance came from the candidate’s opening statements, each of which addressed a key issue that would become a theme for candidates throughout the night: increasing student involvement in SGB. Slates, which each include three to four people, are groups of candidates running on a similar platform.

The message of increased student participation isn’t new to Pitt’s SGB, which has struggled to inspire voter turnout at previous elections. Last year’s election only had a 14.1 percent voter turnout.

After the openers, each presidential candidates took the stage alone. All three candidates emphasized their current positions on SGB, with Karpuzi starting out by pointing to both his time as chief of staff for previous SGB presidents as well as his time as a Board member.

“From [first-year] fall, I’ve been a part of the Student Government Board, and I’ve been been able to see these different experiences that students have lived,” said Karpuzi, adding that he plans on “leaving the University better than when [he] found it.”

He said he planned to make SGB an asset students more frequently use.

“I think we can bring [SGB] into the classroom and show these are different resources for students on campus,” he said. “This is where we act as a catalyst for this spark of inspiration for students to get involved on campus.”

Karpuzi is part of the “Allies” slate, which also includes Ciara Barry, Zuri Kent-Smith and Nihita Manem. Among its initiatives are increasing diversity on campus, reforming the sexual assault reporting system — which was a key platform in current SGB President Natalie Dall’s campaign — and improving first-year programming on campus.

Kneis, running against Karpuzi with the “42 Stories” slate, also made student involvement in SGB a key part of his opening statement.

“I really think the best way Student Government Board can work for you, the students, is by getting as much feedback and input as possible,” Kneis said. “At a lot of schools around the country, there is a student that sits on the Board of Trustees.”

He referenced the University of California as a model for student involvement in the Board of Trustees. At California, a student regent is appointed by the Board of Regents during a summer meeting each year.

“Pitt really likes to move forward and ask how can we make the student voice bigger, I think this is a great way to do it,” Kneis said.

The “42 Stories” slate, which also includes Ian Callahan, Ami Fall and Maddie Guido, is also focusing on improving sexual assault reporting, as well as increasing transparency in SGB.

Horowitz echoed Kneis’ desire to increase student involvement in SGB. However, Horowitz’s plan is specifically focused on getting more student organizations involved with SGB, as opposed to just a singular student representative.

“Right now, SGB has a lower legislative branch called the assembly, and less than 20 organizations are currently represented on there,” said Horowitz. “What I want to do is open this up to every student organization on campus, so it would be more of a town hall.”

Horowitz suggested having a monthly meeting between SGB and a member from every student organization.

“I want to be held accountable,” said Horowitz, “I want the students to be able to say, ‘You said you were going to do this, and it hasn’t happened yet.’”

As president, Horowitz also plans to increase allocations spending on student organizations.

“We’ve seen a decrease in requests, which means that student organizations aren’t utilizing us to our full potential,” he said after the debate’s close. “I want all of that to be allocated so we can have the most programming, attend the most conferences and the most competitions as possible.”

Horowitz is running with the “Vote Summit” slate, along with Emily North, Krishani Patel and Alex Spenceley. The slate’s platform advocates for a more inclusive SGB and the student organization meetings.

The two other slates in the running — “Union” and “The Point” — do not have presidential candidates in their memberships. Because there are only eight SGB Board member slots and 16 candidates running, this will be the first election in a number of years where Board member candidates are in competition with each other.

For the closing statements, sach candidate gave two-minute speeches, wrapping up their main ideas, in what is likely their last big chance to address a crowd of voters before the election.

Students will be able to vote next Tuesday, Feb. 21, by logging onto or following information on Each student will be able to vote for one of the three presidential candidates and three of the 16 Board member candidates.

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SGB candidates push platform before elections