Editorial: The Pitt News endorses Justin Horowitz for Student Government Board President


Justin Horowitz. Courtesy of SGB

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

In brief, the points in Horowitz campaign that we liked the most included:

  • Expanding the Assembly and instituting open forum meetings at least once a month
  • An emphasis on reaching out to students and organizations to get them involved in SGB
  • Utilizing RA’s, a monthly newsletter and CampusConnect to inform students of how to get more involved in SGB
  • Extending the Year of Diversity infinitely and working to encourage diversity through student task forces to meet with administration to push for a more diverse faculty
  • Instituting a sexual assault bystander intervention training for all students
  • Keeping an open door policy for students to visit and speak with him anytime
  • His commitment to being a voice for students to push back against the administration


The Pitt News’ editors meet with Student Government Board presidential candidates every year, and then collectively decide who we believe will be the best person to lead the student body.

We endorsed Natalie Dall last year — a decision that wasn’t easy, but was less contentious because of obvious differences between her platform and her opponent Matt Sykes’. The lineup is different this year, and the decision was incredibly difficult.

Max Kneis, Justin Horowitz and Arlind Karpuzi are all longtime members of SGB, and boast various points of intersection on their platforms. All three candidates, for instance, plan on instituting a town hall style assembly to garner more student interest next year. Each of them also wants to increase transparency about decision making and continue the progress made on issues concerning mental health awareness and sexual assault reporting.

But after nearly an hour of discussion and a tight vote, it was Horowitz’ willingness to admit weaknesses in the relationship between the SGB and Pitt, his passion for vocalizing students’ needs and his ability to offer concrete plans for meeting these goals that swayed the endorsement.

Each Tuesday, when TPN covers SGB meetings, we notice a lack of non-SGB students filling up seats in Nordy’s Place. For a governing body that handles $2.6 million in student funds and is supposed to represent our interests, this — along with a sharp decrease in voter turnout for SGB elections — is concerning.

“One meeting a month, I would suspend reports completely and invite students to come talk to us,” said Horowitz, as a way to increase student engagement with the Board. “[This way] we can be more proactive about reaching out to people instead of expecting students to come to us.”

Horowitz’s bottom-up approach of getting more students to communicate with SGB includes working with resident assistants in each of the first-year residence halls, creating a monthly newsletter for spreading the word about SGB initiatives and events and expanding the Student Organization Assembly to include more student groups.

Currently, the student assembly body of the Board only includes 15 student organizations. Horowitz would increase that representation to include a representative from every student organization at Pitt. Admittedly, this idea could result in a monthly 500-person town hall meeting where only a select few are able to take the mic, but allowing every student organization a channel through which they can voice concerns is important nonetheless.

One of the SGB’s biggest jobs is handling student allocations money. All of the $160 each student pays in the student activities fee falls in the hands of SGB, and the Board is the sole body on campus that determines which organizations will get funding.

Horowitz took issue with the fact that allocations spending has gone way down in the last two years. In fact, last year there was leftover money because student groups weren’t making as many requests.

“Student groups aren’t utilizing us like they use to. We have a huge decrease in the amount of requests and the amount of funding that’s being requested each year.” he said. “A couple years ago, I feel like there was really this stigma around the allocations committee and that they were mean and just did everything they could to not fund these programs and events and petitions.”

Recognizing a problem is the first step — neither of the other candidates brought up this issue with allocations funding. Horowitz said SGB is given a lot of funding each year to distribute to student groups, and he believes it should all be distributed by the end of the year.

Part of his ideas for expanding allocations includes opening the process up to Greek organizations — since many members of SGB are in Greek life, including Horowitz, we were skeptical of this point. Horowitz stipulated that funding would not be able to go toward recruitment or social events, but could only be used for Greek events that would benefit the entire student body, such as a Listen, Lucy event put on by the Collegiate Panhellenic Association in October 2016.

Additionally, he proposed amendments in the allocations manual that would create additional rules for allocating money to Greek organizations. Since Greek organizations are student groups, and don’t get money from their national chapters, we endorse his plan with the stipulation that funding should only go toward public events.

Horowitz also pitched specific proposals for building on what SGB has already done this year. In the coming weeks, he said a page that outlines exactly how students can report sexual assault will go up on the my.pitt homepage. After that, he plans to work with the Green Dot program to institute bystander training for students. To hold Pitt to the commitment it’s made to diversity and inclusion, he plans to create a task force to meet with the administration biweekly, with a focus on diversifying Pitt’s faculty.

What really made Horowitz stand out among his contenders was his realistic view of the SGB’s role at Pitt.

“One thing I’m concerned about is that the past few Boards have more so been a voice of the administration than the students,”  Horowitz said. “I’m not afraid to stand up against [the administration] and say this is what we need to make the Pitt experience better for students.”

As the University continues to grow and change, we think it’s important that transparency with the student body does not shrink. The Sanctuary Campus petition, for example, has gone without comment from Chancellor Patrick Gallagher for weeks.

As Horowitz pointed out, the administration has an obligation to listen to the SGB president on a regular basis. When it comes down to it, we want a president that will use this exclusive access to the dean of students and the chancellor to hold them accountable for student concerns. SGB should be a conduit for the needs of the student body, not another bureaucratic barrier standing between the administration and the campus.

Horowitz has the vision and the insight to be critical of SGB and how it’s operated in the past, meaning he knows what changes it needs in the future. He also recognizes ways in which the Board is too close with the administration — favoring, at times, diplomatic relations over a commitment to issues concerning students.

Right now, he’s got the most aggressive mindset for getting his initiatives done and setting a new precedent for the way SGB should be representing the student body. We lament the fact that Kneis and Karpuzi won’t be able to serve on the Board at all if they lose, but we support Horowitz’s ambitions to challenge the status quo.

If he succeeds, we will hold Horowitz to his promises. And, as in the past, we hope his year in leadership will inspire an even livelier debate next spring.


Here are ideas from the other two candidates that we liked and hope will be incorporated regardless of who wins:


  • Commitment to planning and preparation to ensure productivity
  • Demand for transparency from the administration and his likewise commitment to conveying that transparency to the student body
  • Lobbying for student representation in every administrative body, including the Board of Trustees and the Provost’s calendar committee
  • Lobbying for a longer winter break  
  • His diplomatic take on relations between SGB and the administration
  • Focusing on the availability of gynecologists at Pitt


  • Emphasis on systemic and internal changes with SGB and external changes with the administration and student body
  • Diversifying and energizing the Freshman Programs courses to provide first-year students with a better, more helpful and engaging experience
  • Commitment to improving disability resources for students
  • Commitment to improving relations with international students and helping them receive job opportunities
  • Emphasizing health body image on campus
  • Extending and enhancing counseling options and creating weekly group counseling groups instead of monthly
  • Facilitating more conversations with and increasing the number of Title IX coordinators on campus, including a full time LGBTQ+ member  

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