Max Kneis, president of Pitt’s Student Government Board, requested a moment of silence for those injured and killed in Las Vegas at the beginning of the SGB meeting Tuesday night.
Nordy’s Place was momentarily suspended in silence — before Kneis transitioned to the topic of the “hateful” Westboro Baptist Church protests intended to take place in front of the Cathedral of Learning Thursday from 2:35 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.
“Student Government Board stands with all of the organizations here on campus who are strongly condemning this message of hate,” Kneis said.
SGB announced its partnership with Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance for a fundraiser to counteract the Westboro protests — aiming to raise $20 for each minute the WBC protesters are on Pitt’s campus. The money will go directly to a local organization called Proud Haven to support LGBTQ+ youth.
“They’re hateful people that have a very hateful ideology that I don’t think has any room on Pitt’s campus,” Kneis said.
Donations can be made through the CrowdRise platform — found on SGB and Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance’s respective Facebook pages. SBG is encouraging students to donate money if they can, but also to share the page and message with friends and family.
“This is a great way for the two of us, as student government can view this role as a support system for all those other student groups on campus […] to create a way to have a positive and impactful response,” Kneis said.
The board then moved on to classroom issues, announcing that the drop period for undergraduate courses was extended from two to three weeks, due largely in part to the efforts of SGB Academic Affairs Chair Josh Hanley and the Academic Affairs Committee.
“In most cases, a drop in the extended drop period will not require an adjustment of the tuition bill. If a student is initially enrolled for more than 18 credits and drops to 12-18 credits, then their tuition bill will be adjusted accordingly,” the guidelines released by the Registrar said.
Kneis reported the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students Conference, which he attended this past weekend along with Lincoln University, Penn State and Temple.
“I think another big benefit from PASS is just able to learn from the other schools … what works works on their campuses and what can we steal and bring back to Pitt,” said Kneis.
Kneis said representatives from each university meet semesterly, call biweekly and utilize email to regularly discuss issues they can help each other on. At the past meeting, delegates discussed the state budget impasse, DACA, sexual assault and college affordability.
“I think the conference is really constructive, it’s a great way to sit down personally and plan everything out,” Kneis said, “I think it’s a great way to set the tone for the year, plan out our agenda and really make a game plan to follow.”
SGB members wore matching green T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Reach out, let’s talk,” in honor of the upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month. Programming for the month will include a series of events aimed at confronting the stigma around mental health issues — kicking off with the “Stories Untold” art gallery opening Oct. 10, which will feature student-submitted work, including visual art, poetry, music and film surrounding the theme of mental illness.
Board member Alex Spenceley said college can be an especially difficult time for those with mental health issues to seek help.
“There’s this very particular stigma around mental health where it’s kind of a taboo topic,” Spenceley said. “We need an entire effort — a concerted effort towards it.”
Sports Business Association requested $440 for CR. The board approved it in full.
Archery requested $500 for purchase, rental and service. The board approved in full.
Urban Gaming Club requested $257.52 for general travel. The board approved $234.72 and denied $22.80.
Ping Pong Club requested $250 for purchase, rental and service. The board approved in full.
Ballet Club requested $850 for purchase, rental and service. The board approved in full.
Aero Society of Automotive Engineers requested $1,000 for competition expenses. The board approved in full.
Wushu Club requested $470.40 for general travel. The board approved $470.04 and denied 36 cents.
Pitt Dance Ensemble requested $2002.20 for costumes, gel lights and tape. The board approved in full.
Club Cross Country team requested $875 for competition expenses. The board approved in full.
Latino Medical Student Association requested $170.28 for program expenses. The board approved in full.
Pitt Women’s Club Soccer requested $979.67 for competition expenses. The board approved $979.42 and denied 25 cents.