SGB announces new chairs, recaps accomplishments


Hannah Heisler | Senior Staff Photographer

SGB convened for their final meeting of the year last night.

By Maureen Hartwell, Staff Writer

On Tuesday night at its final meeting of the academic year, Pitt Student Government Board shared memories of late nights in the office and members falling asleep during meetings.

Each board member and committee chair provided a synopsis of their SGB experience from this year in lieu of typical reports. Some committee chairs introduced their successors before starting their remarks, naming incoming Elections Chair Nick Bibby, incoming Academic Affairs Chair Durga Ramachandran, incoming Community and Government Relations Chair Tyler Viljaste, incoming Wellness Chair Neena Duong and incoming Diversity and Inclusion Chair Ravi Gandhi.

Current board member and President-elect Zechariah Brown spoke about how the SGB community has been integral in his time at Pitt. He said to outsiders it may seem that the board is just a group of people who work well together, but they really are like a family.

“Being a board member, there are times when your initiative doesn’t run correctly or an event doesn’t go correctly and you have to adapt,” Brown said. “But I had a lot of people that I could talk to about this because I know they have me and I have them.”

Reflecting on the 2018-19 academic year, Brown said using his mother’s curry chicken recipe for Eat and Greet’s Black History Month is his favorite memory. But separate from this personal touch, Brown said this year was also important for “showing SGB’s grit.”

Brown ranked the board’s gun control letter — in which SGB called on legislators to pass stricter gun control laws — as one of the most important things SGB has done this academic year.

“There’s so many things we do that are universally loved and accepted on campus,” Brown said. “But I think that taking that risk and making a statement on something that wasn’t really risk-free showed to different groups of students that we care about them, and even when it’s not easy we will stand up for them.”

Heading into the 2019-20 academic year, Brown said he’s excited to work with the new board members, though he’s sad to see current members leave.

“I don’t think I’m losing the connections I have this year, I just think that my SGB family is getting a bit bigger,” Brown said.

Brown went on to say he’s nervous about next year because of the example he thinks current SGB President Maggie Kennedy has set. He said he wants to live up to the gravity of this role without micromanaging the other board members.

“I take this role very seriously and my biggest concern is that in some way I might not live up to it,” Brown said. “So that motivates me to be more intentional in decisions whether that’s in analyzing policy or setting meeting times.”

Facilities, Technology and Transportation Chair Caroline Unger reflected on how her role will change as she transitions into the position of vice president and chief of cabinet in the 2019-20 academic year.

“In my first year I was given some involvement and responsibility but I wasn’t being depended on,” Unger said. “I think that moving into my role as FTAT chair was so exciting because of that newness and independence, so I’m going to miss that.”

Unger said she started working with SGB as a first-year student through the First Year Council and always knew she wanted to run for board one day. She said seeing these goals come to fruition is really exciting because it gives her an opportunity to help Pitt students through various issues which she ran on, namely food insecurity.

“I think it’s something that is often overlooked. I would like to see our administration take a firmer stance on food insecurity,” Unger said.

Unger, like many board and committee members, also reflected on the significance of the SGB community and how the board’s office on the eighth floor of the Union feels like a home to the members.

“As soon as you step in you just have this immediate feeling of being home, just being accepted and welcomed and as if you’re around people who are always going to be there for you,” Unger said.

In her final president’s remarks, Kennedy said she never imagined herself in her current position four years ago. She said her time with SGB has been very transformative, noting the possible difference between how she views herself and how others might view her.

“It’s difficult to deal with who you know you are as a person versus what is presented publicly to people,” Kennedy said. “Dealing with low-key being public figures has been weird for us.”

She also said it’s transformed her professionally through unique hands-on experiences.

“I’m just really grateful for this job — and it is a job — has prepared me for the real world more than any class I’ve ever taken,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also said she’s proud of the work the board has done this academic year, namely “opening doors of communication for constituents.” She said this manifested in the town halls, which she believes have been a great success and which President-elect Brown will likely continue next year.

“It’s been a way for us to better be the representatives we were elected to be,” Kennedy said. “And it allows students a channel to talk face-to-face with us, staff, faculty and admin.”

Kennedy wrapped up her remarks by noting that despite this year’s success there’s progress which next year’s board can, and will, make.

“This University, like the world surrounding it, is imperfect and there is a lot of work to be done,” Kennedy said. “But with every effort of students like you, it’s nearing closer and closer to that impossible goal.”


The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers requested $4,704.80 for its annual conference. The board approved $2,000 and denied $2,704.80.