Slates present platforms at “Meet the Candidates” event


Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer

SGB Presidential candidates Albert Tanjaya (left) and Zechariah Brown (right) at SGB’s “Meet the Candidates” event on Thursday night.

By Stefan Bordeianu, For The Pitt News

To prepare for its Feb. 19 election, Student Government Board hosted a “Meet the Candidates” event on Thursday evening with Pitt Tonight host Andrew Dow. At the event, held in the William Pitt Union, the two presidential candidates and 10 board candidates introduced themselves and their reasons for running to the public — though most of the 30 or so people who attended were already affiliated with the board.

Dow, a junior, said the “Meet the Candidates” event was about introducing the candidates, not about grilling them on policies.

“I’m generally not trying to get anyone tied up. I’m trying to show off their personalities and kind of get them to think quickly on their feet,” Dow said. “It’s their chance to be relatable, fun and themselves, and kind of interject their platforms when they can.”

After a brief introduction, Dow introduced each candidate by slate. Slates are unifying affiliations of specific initiatives, similar to political parties. This year there is one independent candidate, and the other candidates represent three slates: the Frontier Slate, the Impact Slate and the 19Forward Slate.  

Students can vote for next year’s SGB board on Feb. 19 through from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  

Frontier Slate

Albert Tanjaya (presidential candidate)

  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Computer science, political science

Tanjaya, if elected, plans on making SGB more visible to the student body.

“I know Maggie [Kennedy, the current SGB president] has taken great efforts into trying to make that work in terms of our new town hall stuff that we’re doing this year, and that’s not anything that we’ve done before,” Tanjaya said. “I really want to continue to make SGB more visible by making us be more influential in student life, as well as the student experience.”

Anais Peterson (board candidate)

  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Urban studies

Peterson said her focus is on making the campus both environmentally and economically more sustainable, with lead filters for the water on campus and a $15 minimum wage for student workers.

Peterson also said she wants to make sure students are heard at the administrative level.

“[Students] have a lot of passion, and I want to really be able to amplify that and take that to student government to be a better link between student population and the administration,” she said.

Editor’s note: Peterson previously worked for The Pitt News.

Eric Macadangdang (board candidate)

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Urban studies, history and philosophy of science

Macadangdang, who chaired SGB’s Wellness Committee this year, is focusing his campaign on personal health, including physical and mental well-being.

“I believe that our university should be providing free menstrual products on campus,” Macadangdang said. “It’s a double standard when this administration could throw condoms our way and when we ask for tampons and pads, they start looking at their checkbook.”
Macadangdang also discussed his belief in the power of SGB working more closely with students.

“I think we need to be on the frontier of the student experience, to put students first, not just academically, and also to listen to them,” Macadangdang said. “Our initiatives, I think, are great, but it’s nothing without student support.”

Victoria Tappan (board candidate)

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Communication, urban studies

Tappan is running on the initiative to create meal plans that accommodate students of lower income.

“I’m running on working for the underserved communities such as those that are on financial aid and are working with the Pitt Pantry in order to create a meal plan that is more accessible to students who don’t have the funds to pay for one of our meal plans,” Tappan said.

Tappan, a member of the Tri Sigma sorority, also hopes to change the reputation of Greek life on campus.

“I’m planning on working with Greek life to change their reputation on campus and to just make it a more positive thing on campus that people actually look forward to going to,” said Tappan.

Impact Slate

Zechariah Brown (presidential candidate)

  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Political science, communication

Brown said he hopes to make SGB more visible and transparent to the Pitt community through an initiative called “Bonding with the Board,” which would allow students to have a closer relationship with SGB.

Brown would also like to change the school’s alcohol medical amnesty policy, which is designed to encourage students to call first responders if they are in a situation involving a drug or alcohol emergency.

Currently, Pitt’s medical amnesty policy mitigates University consequences for conduct code violations and protects students’ criminal records in case of emergency, but the University can disclose information regarding the incident to potential employers, other universities and study abroad coordinators.

“If a student’s friend is in trouble and they want to call the police, and get that person to the hospital or get them somewhere safe, they’re kind of dealing with a dichotomy of whether or not they should call their friend in trouble or whether or not if they’re going to be safe as well,” Brown said.

Caroline Unger (board candidate)

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Philosophy, political science

Unger is focusing on allowing Dining Dollars to roll over at the end of each year, even if students change their plans to something cheaper. Currently, unused Dining Dollars expire at the end of every year, and if students choose smaller meal plans in the spring semester, they forfeit their remaining Dining Dollars from the fall semester.  

“In my eyes, if you paid for those dining dollars, you should be able to keep them. It’s your money,” Unger said.

She is also focusing on implementing a food insecurity program that would provide free and reduced lunches to students in need.

Unger is also focusing on connecting the Crime Alert and ENS system. Pitt ENS is the emergency notification system that will send out alerts to students about emergency situations on or near campus. Crime Alert acts the same way as the ENS system at Pitt, but it is more specific to North and South Oakland. Because so many students live off campus, Unger believes it would increase campus safety to integrate the two systems.

Ashima Agarwal (board candidate)

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Biology, psychology

Agarwal did not attend the “Meet the Candidates” event because of academic conflicts in her schedule. Unger, however, did briefly outline Agarwal’s platform.

Agarwal plans on implementing a peer mentorship program in which students are able to help each other and gain more internship experience, Unger said. Agarwal would also like to incorporate vending machines on campus that sell pads, tampons, and condoms, and Unger said Agarwal believes it is not reasonable for students to go out of their way to attain these resources.

Scott Glaser (board candidate)

  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Political science

To lower the steep costs of living in South and North Oakland, Glaser plans on creating a tenants union, which would act as a buffer between students and landlord. This would be completed by expanding the Office of Off-Campus Living. Glaser also plans on expanding the Freshman Programs Office, and he wants to expand awareness of mental health by implementing a program similar but separate from campus clarity.

19Forward Slate

Sean Steinle (board candidate)

  • Year: First-year
  • Major: Anthropology, linguistics

Steinle, like many of the candidates, wants to see students more involved and engaged with SGB, and said he would like to introduce a polling system to send questions via email to as many undergraduate students as possible.

“I think this would be a really great way to re-engage us with students on campus,” Steinle said.  “The only public referendum is once a year, with too low of a turnout. We really want students to be involved in the process.”

Throughout his speech, Steinle focused on the fact that he is a first-year student.

“We don’t just have to talk about representing freshmen,” he said. “We don’t have to talk and make it a policy point that we support freshmen. We are freshmen ourselves.”

Steinle wants to use his experience as a first-year student to better engage with students who are newer to campus.

“[First-year students] say, ‘What is SGB? What do you do?’ And I want to tell them,” he said. “I want to prove it to them with action. And I want to prove it to them with plans that positively impact their life that they have a say in.”

Lynn Dang (board candidate)

  • Year: First-year
  • Major: Accounting

Dang is the only candidate that isn’t a student of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Her platform is centered on the importance of underclassmen representation on the board.

“I believe there should be more underclassman representation on board in order to further initiatives that have to do with us,” Dang said. “During my first year, I found that there were a lot of problems with first-years that have to do with transitioning to college that my perspective could really help on with future initiatives of student government.”

Dang also plans on implementing more sex education by working with the student health center and maybe even bringing in specialists from Planned Parenthood.

“A lot of times people come from abstinence-only high schools, so they don’t know much about sex education. But people, regardless of their sexuality, should be able to learn about safe sex,” Dang said.

Cedric Humphrey (board candidate)

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Political science

Humphrey noted that he has no “real” SGB experience, saying he’s running as an outsider. But regardless, he wants to make sure that all incoming first-years understand what SGB is able to do and how it can help them.

Humphrey also wants to make SGB’s financial procedures more transparent.

“Every student here pays that $80 activities fee, and they should have the right to know where that money is going,” Humphrey said.

Individual candidate

Aman Reddy

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Microbiology

Running on his own, Reddy said he’s focused on improving overall campus efficiency.

“The University has so many resources to offer, but it’s really hard to get to know what they are or where they are,” Reddy said.

Reddy also has plans to address infrastructure issues on campus, like his self-admitted “controversial” plan to take away the crosswalk on Bigelow to improve traffic flow from upper campus. Likewise, he said he wants to improve Market Central, along with the recycling system at Pitt.

“The issue is that even if a tiny bit of food gets in, that’s it. It’s contaminated and it has to be thrown away,” Reddy said.

A previous version of this article misspelled Caroline Unger’s name. The article has been updated.