SGB hopeful for update on in-person classes later this week

Student+Government+Board+met+Tuesday+night+via+Zoom.+

Zoom Screenshot

Student Government Board met Tuesday night via Zoom.

By Nathan Fitchett, Staff Writer

With in-person classes set to begin Monday, Student Government Board President Eric Macadangdang said the board has still not received official word from Pitt’s administration about the start of classes, but is hopeful for an announcement later this week.

“The Student Government Board, as well as practically everyone else at the University, is awaiting guidance as to what’s to be expected of the start of in person instruction,” Macadangdang said. “Please be mindful of communication that should hopefully come out later this week from the University about this.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, SGB members gave reports on their weekly activities, including voting initiatives, as well as updates on in-person classes. With no new business or agenda items being presented this week, the meeting was mostly spent on board members’ updates.

One of these updates included planned initiatives for the upcoming election. SGB members said they continue to work on new programs to draw students to the polls in November, including recommending that the University switch to asynchronous learning on election day to encourage student voting.

SGB, in partnership with the Pitt Votes task force, sent a list of recommendations to the administration with ways to make the upcoming election as successful as possible before its meeting today. The board believes Pitt’s operational status should not get in the way of students voting.

Ryan Murphy, the chair of the board’s community and governmental relations committee, also met with the Pitt Votes task force this week to finalize its voter registration program in partnership with the Office of Residence Life.

Pitt added 37 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 36 students and one employee, between last Friday and Monday, continuing an upward trend in reported cases. Four of the last seven days have seen double-digit increases in student cases, according to data reported by Pitt.

The board also addressed a new development in a longstanding issue on campus. In response to several protests that have taken place over the last few years, Pitt’s board of trustees recently formed an ad-hoc committee to look into divesting the University’s $4.3-billion endowment from fossil fuels. The committee will file a report with the full board, which will then vote on whether or not to divest. Macadangdang and SGB member Annalise Abraham sent recommendations to the committee last week for potential experts the group could speak to. Abraham said SGB is awaiting further communications from the committee.

Another panel is also making progress — the LGBTQIA+ Center task force had its first meeting this week, led by Tyler Viljaste, vice president and chief of cabinet. The group seeks to plan and provide resources for Pitt’s LGBTQ+ community, with the ultimate long-term goal of establishing a new student center. Viljaste said at the meeting that the committee set its agenda for the upcoming year and is still accepting applications.

SGB also announced the release of a student leader database to 70 different student organizations this week. The database compiles the names of different student leaders around campus in order to recruit them to fill positions in different University working groups. The database is open for anyone to add their name, but SGB member Kathryn Fleisher emphasized that a student adding their name does not guarantee a leadership position. The list is mainly meant to compile the names of students who are open to taking leadership positions on campus for organizations to recruit from.

Board members are also preparing for upcoming events. Wellness Chair Danielle Floyd said her committee is preparing for SGB’s annual Mental Health Awareness Month, which will continue amid the pandemic. She said Zoom seminars and discussion groups are being planned instead of live events this year, with prizes for participation in this year’s activities. The Fall Safety Fair is being held in a similar fashion, with normal activities replaced with Zoom breakout rooms and virtual bingo.

Macadangdang said SGB remains committed to serving students and encouraged them to continue giving feedback.

“Times continue to be quite uncertain and quite challenging for many of us, but please be reminded that SGB is here to serve you,” Macadangdang said. “Please continue to remain engaged and hang in there, and let us know how we can improve this campus for you.”

Allocations:

No new allocations requests were made or approved this week.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Ryan Murphy’s first name. The article has been updated to reflect the proper name. The Pitt News regrets this error.

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