SGB hosts fair for student safety and wellness


Students watch a fingerprinting demonstration at the Spring Safety Fair in February. (Photo courtesy of DaVaughn Vincent-Bryan)

By Xinyu Lu | For The Pitt News

Nicole Gormley was strolling out of the Cathedral when she saw people putting out fires on the Union lawn.

With her interest piqued, the first-year English writing and communications major walked over and allowed a demonstrator to show her how to pick up an extinguisher, aim it at the base of the controlled flame and then sweep back and forth to put it out.

“I think the University always gives students opportunities to learn how to live a healthy life. I’ve never used the fire extinguisher before, but now I’ve learned how to operate it safely,” she said.

Gormley was able to accomplish this at the 26th Safety and Wellness Fair. The Fair — hosted every year by the Student Government Board —  was held Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A disc jockey blasted pop music while the 200 students in attendance collected cookies, T-shirts and flyers from more than 50 organizations including Pitt’s Active Minds, the University Counseling Center and Allegheny County Health Department.

SGB Board member Ian Callahan was present at the event to oversee organization tabling. He said SGB changed the name of the event this year from “Safety Fair” to “Safety and Wellness Fair” in order to better represent the diverse body of organizations available to students concerned about safety and general health in different areas such as transportation and housing.

“There are plenty of resources for Pitt students, and a lot of safety aspects. So we want to help people be aware of what is out there for them,” he said.

Students were also able to stop by Tyco SimplexGrinnell’s table, where they could learn how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a flame. The company is contracted by Pitt to inspect campus fire alarms, extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Nicolas Leo, a sophomore computer science major, heard about the fair through Twitter and came to check out all the safety organizations present — and to hold a fire extinguisher for the first time. He said the fair was a “more practical approach” to educating students about safety on campus.

“Yeah, I’ve never used [a fire extinguisher] before and probably should know,” he said. “I feel more prepared than I did before coming here.”

Kenneth Wahrenberger, a junior religious studies and communications major, came to the fair with his group, Bike Collective, to talk with other students about his organization.

“It’s a beautiful afternoon, and we figured why not take any chance we could to promote safe biking in Pittsburgh,” he said.

Wahrenberger said any bike rider’s number one concern when it comes to safety is to have a properly working bike and the proper safety equipment to go with it.

“Very few people wear helmets or use bike lights, especially at night, and we want to change that. As someone who’s been in a lot of accidents, that’s extremely important to me,” he said.

Julia Lam, a sophomore studio arts major and vice president of Pitt’s chapter of Active Minds — a mental health advocacy organization — represented her group at the fair. She gave out pamphlets and booklets, instructing students on how to speak with friends who may be having suicidal thoughts and telling people how to spot suicidal tendencies.

“We are mostly here because we are helping promote safety in terms of getting resources and also teach people how to support their friends,” she said.

Lillian Cannon, a junior majoring in communications and nonprofit management, left the fair clutching flyers and information pamphlets from several different organizations.

“They do a good job promoting this event every year and I really liked [this one],” she said.


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