SGB bids farewell in final meeting


Thomas J. Yang

Max Kneis gives his final report as SGB president during the last public meeting of the semester. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Visual Editor)

By Madeline Gavatorta | Staff Writer

Plenty of teary, emotional thank-yous and farewells occured at Tuesday night’s Student Government Board meeting — the last official meeting for the 2017-18 board.

During his final report, President Max Kneis took the opportunity to thank everyone who had been with him along the way.

“From my first weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in this incredible organization and work with fantastic students, staff, faculty and administrators all across campus,” Kneis said. “I can confidently say that my experience with SGB has been the greatest part of my college career.”

During his remarks, Kneis also said SGB’s funding could decrease next year. Instead of receiving two percent — about $55,000 — of the student activity fee, SGB’s Formula Group Task Force has recommended that Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner change it to 1.75 percent, or about $48,000. They also asked that PittServes’ portion be increased from 4.25 percent to 7.75 percent. Kneis said SGB did not use up all of their funds this year and could do with less.

He also announced that certain locations in the William Pitt Union, such as Nordy’s Place and several meeting rooms on the fifth and eighth floors, will receive technological upgrades. Some of these upgrades include new projectors, control panels and wireless mic systems. SGB is using part of the student activity reserve fund to help finance the upgrades and equipment. Student Affairs will pay for design, installation, testing and contingency.

“I think that it’s important that student organizations have same type of technology in the spaces that they use for their events and meetings as they’re exposed to in their everyday lives, at home, in the classroom, in other areas on campus,” Kneis said.

While sentimental speeches filled up most of the reports, board member Nihita Manem snuck in information about the next Eat ‘n Greet this Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. on the Litchfield Towers patio. It will feature to-go food, as well as local and organic produce options. Manem said those options were introduced as a result of student feedback.

Student Office of Sustainability director Chelsea Huddleston brought up the current Sustainability Week, including a “DIY Jorts” event Wednesday from 12 to 2 p.m. Participants will be able to learn how to sew in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge.

“It feels like we’re finally beginning to have a campus that’s ready for that kind of commitment. We got a really strong commitment from our administration this year with this plan, saying we have plans to reduce energy and consumption,” Huddleston said.

SGB passed four bills near the end of the meeting. Two revised current SGB codes, one renewed the Collegiate Readership Program, which allows Pitt students to read The New York Times online, and another officially made the Diversity and Inclusion committee a permanent, independent committee.

“We’ve talked about all year that we want to create this new committee to ensure Student Government Board was actively working for diversity and inclusion,” Kneis said.

SGB also amended a bill that altered the allocations manual in several ways.  Under current SGB code, any requests more than $1,200 are heard by the board and any under that amount are handled solely by the allocations committee. One of the changes the bill proposed was to raise the threshold for requests that need to be heard by the board from $1,200 to $1,500, but the amendment nixed that suggested change.

All the board members and several committee chairs followed Kneis in their reports in thanking the current board and those who helped them. Many mentioned Kneis — board members Ian Callahan and Ami Fall and Chief of Staff Derek Arnold said he was the person who encouraged them to join SGB in the first place.

“[SGB] has been a truly amazing and humbling experience,” Callahan said.

Fall said women don’t get approached to run for office often and she would not be a part of SGB without Kneis approaching her.

“I’m so proud to call each of you my friends and to have you in my life. I know that these friendships are for life and I know that for a fact and I have learned so much from each and every one of you,” Fall said.

All of the board took time out to thank Linda Betters, the SGB administrative assistant, affectionately known as the “office mom.” Board member Ciara Barry presented her with a bouquet of red roses on behalf of the board. In return, Betters thanked SGB, especially for putting up with her on “cranky” days.

Board members also thanked Associate Dean of Students and SGB adviser Steve Anderson.

“It takes courage to get up in front of people and do things and run for election and be in front of your peers and try to get votes, so I want to thank each of you guys for having that courage to do something,” Anderson said.

No allocations took place at the meeting.

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