2012 Student Government Board members sworn into office

By Gretchen Andersen

The gavel has been passed.

James Landreneau was sworn in as the 2012 Student Government Board… The gavel has been passed.

James Landreneau was sworn in as the 2012 Student Government Board president Thursday night by exiting president Molly Stieber in the William Pitt Union’s lower lounge. He and eight other students will be responsible for handling the Student Activities Fund, which is over $2 million, that undergraduates pay $80 into each semester.

More than 100 people, including Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and other Pitt administrators, attended the formal SGB inauguration ceremony. Students and family members of incoming Board members welcomed the eight new members: Natalie Rothenberger, Gordon Louderback, Alex Murdoch, Zoe Samudzi, Julie Hallinan, Olivia Armstrong, Halim Genus and Megan McGrath.

Nordenberg congratulated the outgoing 2011 Board members and Stieber’s accomplishments. Nordenberg said SGB “led the way” for talking about the state budget cuts last spring with Pitt Day in Harrisburg — which had its highest turnout yet — where students lobbied congressmen to not slash the higher education budget.

“I’m grateful to the 2011 Student Government Board, both professionally and personally, for their support,” Nordenberg said.

Nordenberg said Board members should strive to make Pitt a better place and that “building a better future always should be a priority.”

“When you are chosen to be a student leader, for those who elected you, you should work tirelessly to advance the greater good,” he said.

Stieber welcomed Landreneau and the eight Board members while also extending gratitude toward the outgoing SGB members.

“It doesn’t feel like my office anymore, and that’s a good thing,” Stieber said.

After her farewell address, Stieber swore in Landreneau and passed the gavel down to him. Landreneau then called the new Board members up to the podium and swore them in.

Landreneau, who said Thursday’s inauguration was humbling, highlighted each 2011 Board member’s contributions and achievements. He said Stieber led with great “patience and passion.”

Landreneau, who was elected with 2,684 student votes — 67 percent of the total — said he hopes for the new Board to be cohesive and approachable.

“SGB has the dual function of allocating and focusing on individual Board projects,” said Landreneau, who campaigned on the implementation of an SGB liaison system, a monthly campus hall meeting and a student leader summit on campus.

Before leaving the podium, Landreneau offered advice to incoming Board members to adopt different projects that may come along during their tenure in addition to working on their original initiatives.

2011 SGB Board member Emily Hoover said she is more excited for this incoming Board than when she was inaugurated last year and added to Landreneau’s advice for incoming Board members.

“Other student concerns come,” Hoover said. “You must listen to their stories. Don’t be constrained with your projects.”

Kenyon Bonner, director of Student Life and SGB adviser, said the outgoing Board was “outstanding” in accomplishing students’ goals and staying attentive to student needs, especially in regard to state funding. Bonner said he looks forward to working with Landreneau and the incoming Board.

“They are a diverse Board, with different project ideas — a good cross-section of the student body,” Bonner said.

Pitt Police Chief Tim Delaney echoed Bonner’s enthusiasm for working with the new Board.

“Every year the Board appears to get stronger and stronger. They are in tune with the issues — especially the state budget,” Delaney said. “This Board plus administration makes it easier to do my job. We are all a partnership.”

The outgoing 2011 Student Government Board members include Ryan Gayman, John Hasley, Hoover, Lauren Jentleson, Matthew Riehle, Zach Weber, Alex Zimmerman and Stieber.

Landreneau is the only Board member to be re-elected from the previous Board.

This year’s election saw a 5 percent increase in voter turnout from last year’s 19 percent turnout. Students voted online or at various locations on campus for five Board candidates and the president.

Hallinan, a 2012 SGB Board member, said she “hopes to get the ball rolling” working with Student Employment about improving the Career Fair. Murdoch said that though he is going to focus on his platform, he is open to any ideas students have for him. Louderback said he wants to start pushing for implementing wireless Internet in all dorms.

“I could not be more excited,” Louderback said. “It’s a great group. We all have the work ethic and drive to change Pitt for the better.”

The first public meeting will be held next Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 8:45 p.m. in Nordy’s Place.

“They seem smart, enthusiastic and ready to go,” Nordenberg said of the incoming Board.