SGB prioritizes human rights, Safety Fair


Student Government Board member Ian Callahan discusses SGB’s Wellness and Safety Fair at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Sarah Cutshall | Staff Photographer)

By Madeline Gavatorta | Staff Writer

Executive Vice President of Student Government Board Zuri Kent-Smith wants to educate the Pitt community about what is going on in regards to human rights and immigration around the world by organizing a human rights conference at Pitt.

“I hope people get a strong foundation in human rights concerns as it relates to immigration obviously. And not only inform but they are able to, they know what actions they can take themselves to get involved with efforts to address the crisis,” Kent-Smith said.

At Tuesday night’s SGB weekly meeting, Kent-Smith discussed briefly immigration as it relates to the current surge in Syrian and African refugees, as well as with DACA recipients. Disagreement regarding a reformed immigration plan has been the subject of debate among lawmakers in Congress and could affect immigrant students at Pitt.

In light of this, Kent-Smith is meeting tomorrow with Pitt sociology professor and human rights advocate Jackie Smith to discuss when and where the conference will be held.

“The purpose of meeting tomorrow is to look at the feasibility [of the event and] to look at what type of format we want to have,” Kent-Smith said.

In addition to SGB’s larger events, Board Member Ian Callahan partnered with Priscilla Morales in Pitt’s Public Safety Office to discuss plans for the Spring Safety Fair in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 30. Pitt Police and Computing Services and Systems Development will be tabling at the event. Callahan estimated more than 150 students went to the Fall Safety Fair and he expects more than 200 to attend this upcoming one.

“I don’t like to see harm done to anyone, and if I can help be a facilitator, to help educate in the different ways they can stay safe, it helps me sleep better at night,” Callahan said.

SGB President Max Kneis also updated everyone present about how Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement Kathy Humphrey and Deputy Secretary of the Board of Trustees Cyndi Moore trained student representatives of the Board’s committees last Sunday. The representatives learned about their role in their respective committee, meeting structure and how to best contribute to committee meetings.

“I think that it’s really important that student [representatives] are trained so they can properly participate, and fully participate, in the meeting and add the student voice to the discussions that are going on at the highest levels of the University,” Kneis said.

The training educated and focused student representatives who sit on the Board of Trustees committees. Kneis had been discussing and finalizing the plan since April of 2017, and intends for it to continue every September.

“I personally got a better understanding of really what role of committee meetings is and how to best influence the agenda of future meetings,” Kneis said.

Chief of Staff Derek Arnold missed Tuesday’s meeting to attend a concert and Community and Governmental Relations Chair Jessa Chong missed the meeting because she was sick.


Panther Belly Dancers requested $600 for a program expense. The board approved $300 and denied $300.

Panther Swim Club requested $1,302 for their Invitational Meet at Penn State for lodging. The board approved in full.

Engineers for a Sustainable World requested $1,889 for ESWcon18 registration, airfare, ground transportation and lodging. The board approved in full.

Vietnamese Student Association requested $40.83 for a program expense. The board approved $24.87 and denied $15.96.

Women’s Choral Ensemble requested $7,020 for general travel. The board approved in full.

Pitt Ping Pong Club requested $753.12 for a competition request. The board approved in full.

Phi Delta Epsilon requested $5,000 for their William Gelfand lecture for honorarium, airfare, ground transportation, lodging and purchases. The board approved in full.

Pitches and Tones requested $130.83 for general travel. The board denied in full.

Pitt Russian Club requested $400 for a purchase, rental and service request. The board approved in full.

American Society of Civil Engineers requested $1,129 for purchase, rental and service request. The board approved in full.

Mastana Fusion Dance Club requested $1,186.81 for a competition expense. The board approved in full.

PantheRaas Team requested $1,817.48 for their Raas Royalty Competition for registration, ground transportation and lodging. The board approved in full.

Chinese American Student Association requested $1,444.84 for their Lunar New Year Celebration for honorarium, food, decorations and custodial services. The board approved in full.

Global Medical Brigades requested $300.48 for purchase, rental and service. The board approved in full.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article said an allocations request from Pitches and Tones was approved in full. The article has been updated to represent the correct information, which is that the request was denied in full. The Pitt News regrets this error. 

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