Change coming to Hillman, SGB says


Levko Karmazyn | Staff Photographer

Board members Albert Tanjaya and Zechariah Brown are both running for SGB president.

By Maureen Hartwell, For The Pitt News

Pitt’s Student Government Board announced a new space in Hillman where students can learn how to escape the real world without the aid of Netflix.

A new Virtual Reality Lab will open in Hillman Library at the end of the month, as announced by SGB at its Tuesday night meeting.

Board member Albert Tanjaya said the space will transform from its current state as a “makeshift desk” into a resource that all students can use. He said this area will become a lab that students can use for projects and to test out VR programming.

Tanjaya said this lab, located in the Digital Scholarship Commons, is open to any student who is properly trained in handling VR materials. That training will be available to students through the lab.

Tanjaya also announced that the third floor of Hillman will undergo renovations beginning in February and concluding at the end of the year. This new third floor will likely imitate the minimalistic style on the fourth floor, featuring black and white color schemes with modern desks and chairs.

“We are hoping to see the same features as the fourth floor, keeping it consistent with the white light,” Tanjaya said, referencing the anticipated aesthetic of the new floor.

Also coming to Hillman in February is an exhibit called “Ferguson Voices,” a collaboration between the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Pitt’s Global Studies Center. This interactive exhibit celebrating African American culture will last through February in honor of Black History Month.

The exhibit will debut Feb. 1 in the Thornburgh Room with a kickoff reception from 1-3 p.m. SGB Diversity and Inclusion Chair Tabitha Barnes said other events happening through “Ferguson Voices” include a panel discussion with scholar-activist Donna Auston and a conversation with Michael Hanchard, the chair of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

All of these events will occur in the Thornburgh Room on the first floor of Hillman. Barnes said a full schedule of SGB’s planned events for Black History Month is forthcoming.

Vice President and Chief of Finance Cory Stillman, who made a task force this year with the intention of creating a humanities-oriented space for students in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning, said the project is moving forward. After spending last semester searching for the owner of a vacant print shop in the basement of the Cathedral, the coalition finally connected with the office of Provost Ann Cudd, which is in charge of the space, during finals week.

Currently, the coalition is scheduling a meeting for a tour of the space with the aim of installing a collaborative space for students in the media and arts there. Stillman emphasized that once cleared and renovated, the area will only be temporary.

“If those temporary spaces are successful and students are using them, then we can talk about permanent renovations,” Stillman said.

Stillman said he and his team aspire to create a permanent space because there currently aren’t enough collaborative spaces for creatives.

“The students who will most benefit are those who study film studies or theatre arts because Pitt is a STEM-heavy school. And those students do some amazing work but don’t feel as valued at the University as they should,” Stillman said.

Executive Vice President Jahari Mercer presided over the public meeting for the first time, as President Maggie Kennedy was absent due to sickness.

“It was a little bit nerve-racking because it was my first time. But it was a good experience to have and I’m hoping Maggie has a speedy recovery,” Mercer said.

Toward the end of the allocations discussion, the board spent more than 15 minutes deliberating the merits of funding a Chinese Bible Study Fellowship event. The event, scheduled for the Saturday of spring break, will include traditional Chinese music and refreshments.

After Shengjun Yin, a member of the Chinese Bible Study Fellowship, argued for the importance of the event for exchange students who don’t go home for spring break, the board amended the allocations, adding $1,000 to the amount recommended by the allocations committee.

“A lot of exchange students can’t go home to China for spring break, so it’s nice for us to gather together,” Yin said.


Pitts Women’s Volley Club requested $8,808 for a competition. The board approved in full.

Active Minds requested $3,800 for an event. The board approved in full.

The Coalition of Pre-Health requested $14,383.50 for an event. The board approved $6,403.61 and denied $7,979.89.

The Mastana Fusion Dance Club requested $1,363.85 for a competition. The board approved $1,217.77 and denied $146.08.

The Panther Swim Club requested $2,328.48. The board approved in full.

The Chinese Bible Study Fellowship requested $5,425. The board approved $4,615.70 and denied $809.30.

The United States Institute of Theatre Technology requested $2,000. The board approved in full.

The Chinese American Students Association requested $1,470.82. The board approved in full.

The Pittsburgh Club Baseball Team requested $2,687. The board approved in full.

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