SGB to vote on modified governing code Tuesday

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By Nathan Fitchett, Staff Writer

Amid the shifting pandemic situation, Pitt’s Student Government Board is making big changes to its governing code to adapt to the new virtual campus environment.

SGB unveiled Board Bill 2021-1 at its weekly meeting last Tuesday, seeking to update the governing code’s more outdated policies. Ben King, board member and chief of finance, authored the bill with co-authorship from President Eric Macadangdang and Aboli Kesbhat, allocations committee chair. The bill is posted online for public comment until SGB votes Tuesday.

Macadangdang stressed the importance of the changes in keeping SGB’s operations running smoothly while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“There were portions of the code that were just outdated and didn’t reflect how we operate nowadays,” Macadangdang said. “I think the changes will help give us more flexibility to better serve students during these times.”

The largest portion of the changes were devoted to the Allocations Manual, which sets guidelines for student organizations on how to spend and receive Student Activity Fee money.

The most notable change will allow student leaders more flexibility to use funds allocated to them without having to go to SGB for multiple approvals. Previously, clubs would have to get additional approvals from SGB for any modifications made to allocations requests, such as changing dates and times of events or switching the vendors for purchases. Clubs would no longer have to submit new allocations requests unless they need more funding than previously requested or if their modification falls under one of the special cases listed in the manual.

SGB also made modifications to the guidelines for funding events on campus. With the new changes, SGB will only fund events that comply with University health and safety guidelines for all organizations, even if those guidelines are not binding that specific organization. As a result, both sponsored and independent student organizations are all held to the same standards in order to receive funding for events.

The new bill also updates SGB’s confidentiality policies for budgeting requests, providing only the organization requesting funds, the amount requested and the purpose at public meetings. The updated policy also specifies that SGB cannot release the name of the student who made the budget request, only the organization. This was changed to allow transparency for allocations while still protecting the privacy of individual organization leaders.

Other changes included restricting travel funding for organizations to only trips to and from Pittsburgh and clarifying travel destinations from the previous standard of “Continental North America” to solely “United States and Canada.” Governmental groups, such as the Resident Student Association, can now receive up to $5,000 in supplemental funds on top of their existing budget as well.

Besides the numerous changes to the Allocations Manual, the bill also adds some general changes to SGB’s operation guidelines to better reflect its remote status. Policies for emergency operations and electronic voting were added, as well as updated virtual office hours for board members.

The bill also notably removed the Undergraduate Crisis Relief Fund, which, according to the King, had been made redundant by the Student Emergency Assistance Fund, which was created over the summer to better assist students during the pandemic.

King said SGB has worked for months to finalize these changes in preparation for a board vote.

The earliest draft of these changes was created early last spring with a goal of adopting them before the end of the semester, but the onset of the pandemic pushed them on to the back burner,” King said. “Over the summer, we realized that broader changes would be necessary for effective operations this fall, so a second set of changes was drafted, which became this bill.”

 

A previous version of this story referred to the College of General Studies’ student government as a governmental group affected by the SGB bill. It is not affected by the bill. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Pitt News regrets this error.

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