SGB addresses student voting issues, campus improvements


Knox Coulter | Staff Photographer

Board member Albert Tanjaya discusses the possibility of adding needle disposal containers to restrooms on campus.

By Emily Wolfe, Senior Staff Writer

Long lines snaked through the William Pitt Union and also Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on Tuesday afternoon as students waited their turns to vote. Outside the Union, Ritika Bajpai and other members of the Pitt Student Government Board’s Community and Governmental Relations Committee set up a table where they stood answering student questions about voting all day — including those from several puzzled students who were turned away when they tried to vote.

Some students said they had registered to vote with an on-campus organization, but found on election day that they weren’t in the registry. Some believed they had re-registered in Pittsburgh, but learned Tuesday that they were still registered in their home districts.

Bajpai, who chairs the CGR committee, told students that for future elections, the committee wants to remind students to check their voter registration early so problems like this won’t materialize.

“On Election Day, there’s not really anything we can do,” Bajpai said at Tuesday’s SGB meeting. “We felt bad, because we want everyone to be able to vote.”

As Bajpai looks ahead to future elections, SGB members are at work addressing other recent student grievances. Board member Albert Tanjaya said the University is looking to add needle-disposal containers to some restrooms on campus for students who need to self-inject with medications throughout the day, in response to an Oct. 24 column in The Pitt News.

Tanjaya raised the issue at a meeting with Jim Earle, Pitt’s associate vice chancellor for business and auxiliary services, and they agreed to move forward in addressing the issue.

“We’re looking at which restrooms on campus would be fit to house them,” Tanjaya said.

At the same meeting with Earle, Tanjaya and Caroline Unger, who chairs the Facilities, Technology and Transportation Committee, brought up an issue raised at last Tuesday’s SGB meeting, where two female students voiced worries about spaces without blue lights on Pitt’s campus.

Each of the more than 500 blue lights across campus indicates the presence of an emergency phone which supplies students with an immediate connection to the Pitt Police. At last week’s meeting, the two students identified routes to three residence halls on campus — Forbes Hall, Panther Hall and the Forbes-Craig Apartments — which they said lacked blue lights, creating an uneasy atmosphere for female students walking home alone at night.

After a formal investigation into the routes, Unger said adding the blue lights will be a simple process.

“[Earle] was completely open to the idea of having more blue lights,” she said. “Blue lights generally make you feel safer on your walk because you know you have a resource there, of Pitt Police available. Especially walking at night, it can be a little more nerve-wracking. Having them there will ease a lot of nervousness when walking alone at night.”

Tanjaya, Unger and Earle also discussed the possibility of adding air-conditioning units to on-campus residence halls without them.

“We are looking into the cost of putting in a central air unit for the buildings,” Tanjaya said. “They’re going to test it with Holland first. Obviously, it will not happen this month or this semester, but it’s a work in progress.”

At the meeting’s start, President Maggie Kennedy thanked students who came to Monday’s “Stronger Than Hate” vigil on the Cathedral lawn. SGB helped organize the event and distributed thousands of T-shirts on campus, and Kennedy said she hoped the ideas students took away from the event would last.

“We don’t want this kind of activism to appear only after tragedy,” she said.

Next week’s SGB meeting will break from standard form and merge with the board’s next Town Hall meeting, where students can bring their questions to board members and University officials, including Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner. The Town Hall meeting will begin at 9 p.m., and will focus on University policy.



Pitt PantheRaas requested $2,012 to attend a competition. The board approved in full.

Lady Panther Club Lacrosse requested $14,351.77 to attend a competition. The board approved $12,500 and denied $1,851.77.

Society of Women Engineers requested $3,445 to attend a conference. Because no member of the club appeared to defend the request, the board postponed its vote until next week.

Chinese American Students Association requested $5,000 to bring a group of guest speakers to campus. The board approved in full.

Pittsburgh Fencing Association requested $1,552 to attend a competition. The board approved $1,522 and denied $30.

Student Emergency Medical Services requested $3,170 to attend a competition. The board approved in full.

Pitt Club Field Hockey requested $2,209.14 to attend a competition. The board approved in full.


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