Pitt students show love for University


Sarah Cutshall | Staff Photographer

SGB board member Zechariah Brown hands out “Let’s Talk” stress balls at SGB’s table during Tuesday’s “I Love Pitt Day.”

By Sarah Shearer, Assistant News Editor

Pitt sophomore Oluchi Okafor didn’t anticipate walking into a sea of free burgers and cupcakes when she left her class in the Cathedral of Learning Tuesday afternoon, but she didn’t hesitate to get in line.

The political science major joined long lines of students awaiting a variety of free food and drinks, such as popcorn, sandwiches and apple cider at yesterday’s I Love Pitt Day. The annual celebration of all things Pitt brought large crowds of students to the front of the William Pitt Union for food and giveaways — SGB raffled off Pitt-themed license-plate holders, water bottles, frisbees and more.

“I came out of Cathy from class and saw people,” Okafor said. “I missed it last year so it’s nice to get to it this year.”

The Division of Student Affairs hosted the event with SGB, who set up a table to hand out items like stress balls and pins to promote self-care — SGB held the event in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Our slogan this year … is ‘I care, let’s talk,’” SGB Wellness Committee Chair Eric Macadangdang said at the event. “We’ve just been showing that we care.”

Dean Kenyon Bonner, who made his way around the Union driveway talking with students, said the University’s partnership with SGB for Tuesday’s event was a part of a concerted effort to bring more student organizations and initiatives to I Love Pitt Day.

“I think the goal is to just represent and express the affinity and the love we have for the University,” Bonner said. “It’s a day for everyone to come together and celebrate, particularly for students … Let’s take a day to pause and show our appreciation and love for our school, our place of employment and a place that means a lot to a lot of people.”

In addition to SGB, Pitt Dance Marathon also had a table — as well as the new financial program Panthers Forward.

Unveiled at the beginning of the month, Panthers Forward enables Pitt seniors with federal loans to apply for a grant funded by a network of successful alumni. Up to 150 students will receive grants of up to $5,000 this year and are encouraged in a noncontractual agreement to make donations to the program in the future as a way to give back to students in the Pitt community.

“We think we’re innovating something that’s quite new,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in an interview with The Pitt News earlier this month. “This idea of paying it forward and kind of replacing the commercial loan space with an evergreening fund that we all support ourselves is [new].”

Applications opened Oct. 8 and will close Oct. 31 at midnight.

Pitt Dance Marathon, the largest student organization at Pitt, also had a table at the event. This year, thousands of students participated in the annual 12-hour dance marathon, which is a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a partner with the Children’s Miracle Network.

I Love Pitt Day happened on the heels of a month filled with Pitt pride. With an entire week devoted to festivities in the Pitt community like the fireworks and laser show, the crowning of Pitt’s Homecoming King and Queen and the William Pitt Union’s 120th birthday party, it’s been a celebratory month. And according to first-year Madelyn Human, there’s good reason for it.

“I went to [high] school down the street, so [Pitt] is kind of already my home,” Human said. “I think [the event] is good to help people get more excited about Pitt.”

Okafor agreed that I Love Pitt Day establishes a strong community among students, and specifically valued Bonner’s presence during the day.

“I think it’s important, just because the dean’s here and people get to see his face,” Okafor said. “He kind of gets to personalize himself with the students and makes them feel more at home.”

Macadangdang echoed Okarfor’s belief that the day was an important piece of student life at the University, and emphasized the link between students’ ability to love Pitt and their ability to love themselves.

“I think to love Pitt you also have to love yourself and you have to love what you’re doing,” Macadangdang said. “So I think that a barrier to enjoying all the stuff that Pitt offers is if you’re having problems with self-care, problems with depression or anxiety. That can really stifle you from experiencing the full college experience.”