Additional students added to working groups planning fall classes, housing

By Rebecca Johnson, Senior Staff Writer

Danielle Obisie-Orlu — the president of the Resident Student Association, which represents students living in residence halls — was recently added to a panel determining what on-campus housing could look like this fall. 

Obisie-Orlu, a rising sophomore political science and international and area studies double major, said she officially joined the working group on May 14 after being recommended by Steve Anderson, an associate dean of students and director of the Office of Residence Life. Anderson is also a member of the housing working group.

“I think having the perspective of both the president and rising sophomore allows me to engage with the ideas brought forward in a way that the student’s voice and community experience is prioritized,” Obisie-Orlu said. “I think that my contributions present an alternate view of how students want to engage with Pitt as a community and how they would want to feel empowered by the institution.”

The health and housing working group previously contained 11 faculty and staff members and undergraduate student Angela Meadows. The group now contains 15 members, with the additions of Obisie-Orlu, Bo Zeng, an assistant engineering professor, and Anne Newman, the chair of the Department of Epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health.

Ashley Shafer, a graduate student and teaching fellow in the School of Education, was also recently added to a working group focusing on graduate studies and research. This working group previously contained 14 faculty and staff members and graduate student Areej Ali. The group now contains 17 members, with the additions of Shafer and Tom Nolin, an associate pharmacy professor.

Both working groups are part of the Task Force on Reimagining Pitt Education, co-chaired by Provost Ann Cudd and James Martin II, the U.S. Steel dean of the Swanson School of Engineering, which is leading the effort on determining what Pitt’s education and housing will look like this fall. The panel will deliver a report to the chancellor on May 29 with recommendations for the fall semester. Students do not sit on the task force’s executive committee, but are represented on each of the working groups.

University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the two students being added to the task force will provide valuable perspectives. He added that all students are welcome to submit their feedback about the task force and ideas for the fall semester.

“All task forces are closely reviewing online input submitted through the planning feedback form,” Zwick said. “Students are encouraged to continue to provide input to help in navigating the next academic year.”

Obisie-Orlu said the discussions on the working group have been productive thus far, and she is thankful to be included.

“The discussions that I have had during working group sessions have been incredibly eye-opening in terms of understanding the multifaceted approach that the University has taken,” Obisie-Orlu said. “I am thankful for being in a space where the student perspective is valued and prioritized.”