Get to know the 2017 SGB slates


The candidates for SGB President: (from left) Max Kneis, Arlind Karpuzi and Justin Horowitz. Courtesy of SGB

By Rebecca Peters / Staff Writer

42 Stories: (from left) Max Kneis, Ian Callahan, Ami Fall, Maddie Guido. Courtesy of SGB
42 Stories: (from left) Max Kneis, Ian Callahan, Ami Fall, Maddie Guido. Courtesy of SGB

42 Stories Candidates

The aptly named slate proposes 42 changes to Pitt’s campus, including instituting monthly town hall meetings for the student body to attend, expanding the SafeRider system to pick up students at all hours and increasing both the number of gynecologists on staff and the hours they work. The slate also proposes an extension of winter break, stemming from the Board’s successful lobbying for the creation of a fall break in 2008.  

Max Kneis, a finance and accounting major, is running for SGB president. Kneis, currently SGB vice president and chief of finance, plans to lobby for student representation on the Board of Trustees — which determines tuition levels — and securing students a permanent place on committees that hire University administrators.

“I think the way I view the presidency, and the way I kind of view SGB in general, is not this group that handles everything internally… SGB is there to enable and empower student groups,” Kneis said.

Maddie Guido, a sophomore biological sciences major, is focusing on programs that promote women’s and sexual health on campus, as well as creating a graduate mentorship program for students to learn more about Pitt’s graduate schools.

Ami Fall, a sophomore political science and psychology major, intends to promote mental health and sexual assault awareness on campus. She also plans to modify the policies surrounding finals week, specifically by extending the minimum amount of time allowed between a student’s exams.

Ian Callahan, a junior electrical engineering major, served as director of finance for the Engineering Student Council in the past. He plans to improve safety on campus through the creation of a “Blue Light” app, allowing students to use the blue light system — an on-campus emergency phone that connects directly to Pitt police — in areas where there are no physical posts, such as South Oakland. He also plans to improve access and increase hours for Pitt’s campus shuttle service.
“I think in terms of how to show what we’ve done, the biggest thing is being open and honest about what we have been able to do, what we haven’t been able to do and why,” Kneis said.

Vote Summit: (from left) Justin Horowitz, Emily North, Krishani Patel, Alex Spenceley. Courtesy of SGB
Vote Summit: (from left) Justin Horowitz, Emily North, Krishani Patel, Alex Spenceley. Courtesy of SGB

Summit Candidates

The initiatives of the Summit slate include improving Pitt’s mental health services by hiring more staff at the Counseling Center, providing enough physical space for treatment and implementing an effective referral system for students who use the maximum eight therapy sessions in an academic year.

The Summit platform also proposes to have the University partner with Uber to aid with campus security. They also want to find ways to provide cheaper and healthier options at campus convenience stores, such as QuickZone and Market To-Go.

Justin Horowitz, a junior marketing and business information systems major, is running for SGB president. Currently a Board member, Horowitz plans to form an advisory committee for gauging student climate on diversity and inclusion, improve access to and better the services of the University’s Mental Health Task Force and restructure SGB to include a representative from every student organization.

“The administration doesn’t have a choice but to meet with me and listen to me as president, but I can make that choice of whether or not I want to be the voice of students and whether or not I want to be that aggressive voice,” Horowitz said.

Krishani Patel, a junior biology and religious studies major and Pitt Pathfinder, plans to establish a three-day “Reading Period,” without classes before finals and make online programs needed for certain classes, such as TopHat and Sapling, free to students.

Emily North, a sophomore marketing and supply chain management major, is president of Delta Zeta sorority. She plans to work with Sodexo, the University’s food supplier, to regulate food costs on campus and decrease food waste. She also plans to extend the blue light system to off-campus student neighborhoods.

Alex Spenceley, a sophomore neuroscience major, is focusing on increasing the transparency of club sports’ funding allocations. Spenceley also plans to promote transparency and to educate students about allocations through informational meetings.

“I don’t just want us just updating students on what we’re doing,” Horowitz said. “I want to hear about their events and everything. I want to have these conversations.”

Allies: Arlind Karpuzi, Ciara Barry, Zuri Kent-Smith, Nihita Manem. Courtesy of SGB
Allies: Arlind Karpuzi, Ciara Barry, Zuri Kent-Smith, Nihita Manem. Courtesy of SGB

Allies Candidates

The Pitt Allies slate focuses on 12 initiatives. The group plans to establish an LGBTQ+ advisory and resource center, expand the SGB website and improve disability resources by placing permanent desks in classrooms for students with wheelchairs and fixing the ramps on campus shuttles. The slate also proposes changing the course material for the Freshman Programs course to include conversations about the resources available for diversity and inclusion, mental health and sexual assault.

Arlind Karpuzi, a junior finance and marketing major, is running for SGB president. Karpuzi, a Board member, is a resident assistant in Bruce Hall and a brother of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Karpuzi’s plans include making systemic changes to the University that will improve student involvement in SGB.

“When the entire campaign team sat down, we tried to figure out how are we going have this before and after… we want to instill a lot of different issues into the classroom…like improving the Freshman Programs courses,” Karpuzi said.

Zuri Kent-Smith, a sophomore economics and natural sciences major, is vice president of RISE — Reach Inside Your Soul for Excellence — a program that began this academic year to “help [first-year] students get acclimated to the campus and help develop necessary skills needed to succeed” at Pitt, according to its website. Following the presidential election, he petitioned to have exams postponed and rescheduled in response to student distress.

Nihita Manem, a junior neuroscience and psychology major, is a sister of Gamma Sigma Sigma sorority and a Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority education director. She plans to increase walk-in hours at the Counseling Center to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Ciara Barry, a junior finance and marketing major, is vice president of the Lady Panthers lacrosse team and recruitment chair of Phi Beta Lambda. She plans to educate student organization leaders about how to maximize funding efforts to increase satisfaction and decrease dues.

“I think we often focus on programming, which is an awesome first exposure… but I think we need a more solid, systemic, permanent change,” Karpuzi said.

Union: (from left) Natalie Cheuk, Nicholas Fisher, Davis Weaver. Courtesy of SGB
Union: (from left) Natalie Cheuk, Nicholas Fisher, Davis Weaver. Courtesy of SGB

Union Candidates

The Union slate candidates centered their platform on three main issues: diversity and inclusion, student representation and student safety. In direct response to the recent crime wave on campus, the third response is aimed at working with Pitt police, the University and the surrounding community to improve safety measures.

Natalie Cheuk, a junior political science and linguistics major, is focusing her campaign on diversity and inclusion, women’s health and SGB rebranding. The slate also aims to improve sexual assault resources, including the development of trained students known as peer responders.

“Everyone deserves an ally after experiencing sexual violence,” Cheuk said.

Nicholas Fisher, a junior political science and communication rhetoric major, is running on a platform of student safety, mental health, student representation and campus innovation.

Davis Weaver, a sophomore political science and international studies major, plans to increase student representation on SGB, add more classes that will satisfy general education requirements for Arts and Sciences students and focus on student awareness of counseling services.
With student interaction as their main focus, the Vote Union slate chose not to run a presidential candidate.

“We believed that in running for three Board positions we could most directly and effectively work with students to make an inclusive, welcoming, unified Pitt for everyone,” Fisher said.

The Point: (from left) Manny Marotta, Saket Rajprohat, Emilee Taylor. Courtesy of SGB
The Point: (from left) Manny Marotta, Saket Rajprohat, Emilee Taylor. Courtesy of SGB

The Point Candidates

This three-member slate comprised of all sophomores represents how, like the three rivers in Pittsburgh, the candidates have come together from three separate backgrounds to make a point. Some of the issues the slate wants to tackle include getting rid of allocation requests at meetings and replacing the process with liaisons who will talk to students about funding in person. They also want students to elect all the members on the allocation committee. Allocations committee members currently apply through Student Government Board.

Manny Marotta, a sophomore political science major, is currently the vice-chairman of the facilities, transportation and technology committee for SGB. He said he and the other slate members have discussed projects such as making guest sign-in a tap system — which means instead of scanning cards, students can tap their cards against a device to get into a building. He also wants to create a direct messaging link on the SGB website so students can talk to live representatives.

“While we believe that current SGB initiatives are extremely important to the student body and should be continued upon and expanded, we believe that it is essential for new ideas to enter SGB to revitalize the organization and allow every student to be better represented,” the group said in a Facebook message.

Saket Rajprohat, a sophomore political science major, plans to expand students access to gender-neutral bathrooms and push for Pitt to become a sanctuary campus for undocumented immigrant students. Rajprohat is a columnist for The Pitt News.

Emilee Taylor, a sophomore political science and economics major, served as a member of the community and governmental relations committee for SGB this year. Her goals as a Board member include making sure the “Year of Diversity” doesn’t end with this academic year and working on SGB’s communication with the student body.

In terms of having a slate without a president, Marotta said they all wanted to be equals and support each other with their initiatives.

“This campaign has only drawn us closer [to the presidential candidates],” Marotta said. “We’ve had many opportunities to collaborate with them and our initiatives have really grown from the guidance of what the president’s platforms are.”

Independent: Ritika Bajpai. Courtesy of SGB
Independent: Ritika Bajpai. Courtesy of SGB

Independent Candidate

Ritika Bajpai, a first-year computer science and finance major, is the only candidate not running as part of a slate. She said she wants to run for SGB because she enjoyed being on the board at her high school. After attending the slate mixer, where SGB candidates can mingle and form slates, she realized most people already formed groups, so she decided to run alone.

Her three main initiatives are continuing the current work the Board has done on the sexual assault campaign — such as reviewing Pitt’s sexual assault policy and increasing accessibility resources for victims — getting healthier and more diverse food options on campus and bridging the communication gap between SGB and the student body.

She said, as an outsider, she wants to offer a new perspective to the Board.

“I feel like I have fresh new ideas,” Bajpai said.

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