Eric Macadangdang, the president of Pitt’s Student Government Board, addressed the University’s latest COVID-19 case numbers on Tuesday evening, citing 22 new cases made up entirely of students. While the latest report contains fewer cases than in previous weeks, Macadangdang said students should not take this as a sign to ease up on quarantine precautions.
“Please do not take this as an invitation to be careless,” Macadangdang said. “We’re certainly not seeing what we would traditionally see on a Friday night in Oakland in early September, but there are still some partaking in activities that you can’t regard as entirely safe.”
SGB released a statement on Monday in response to the University’s decision last week to allow professors to request to move their class to in-person instruction if there is a “definable benefit,” while Pitt remains in the middle Elevated Risk posture. The board reminded students in the statement that they can still opt to take any class online, and urged students to remain cautious and continue to follow quarantining guidelines.
Board members and committee chairs also discussed COVID-19 and student activities budget updates and conversations with Pitt police, among other updates.
Macadangdang and several other SGB board members accompanied Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost and dean of students, last Friday evening for a walk around South Oakland to survey what the off-campus environment was like and handed out masks and prizes to those following proper procedures.
But while Pitt administrators monitor student activity this semester, the University’s response has also generated complaints from the student body. Stephen Jacobus, the chair of the judicial committee, said his committee has been compiling a list of complaints from students around campus about how Pitt has been running the semester so far. Jacobus plans to meet with Bonner to address these complaints this week to ensure they are acknowledged by administration. He said he thinks it’s especially important for these complaints to be heard under the current circumstances.
“I think us as SGB have a responsibility, especially right now, to ensure that all the students in the University are being represented properly to the administration, and making sure that all of their concerns and problems are being heard,” Jacobus said.
Ben King, the vice president and chief of finance, also gave an update about the student activities budget, which outlines how the money allocated by the University to student organizations can be spent. King said despite a few small delays, the budget is expected to be released any day now.
Executive Vice President Cedric Humphrey announced that he and board member Kathryn Fleisher will join several other student leaders and meet next week with Pitt police chief Jim Loftus and Ted Fritz, the vice chancellor for public safety, to discuss outcomes of their previous discussions on police accountability on Pitt’s campus. Humphrey said they will look to establish mutual goals moving forward.
Board member Annalise Abraham said she plans to meet this week with members of the wellness committee and other board members to discuss concerns with dining options on campus. The student leaders plan to discuss working to improve healthy food options for marginalized groups on campus by working with Compass Group.
Danielle Obisie-Orlu, the president of Resident Student Association, discussed plans for the organization’s annual Non-Alcoholic Mix Off event and RSA’s recent survey to residence hall communities. The theme for NAMO this year is Steel City Melting Pot, shedding light on the different communities that make up Pittsburgh and Oakland. RSA also just sent out a survey to Hall Council members to see how students in residence halls this semester are doing with community engagement and to address any dining concerns.
Macadangdang closed the meeting by mentioning the recent breakthrough by Pitt researchers in the fight to neutralize COVID-19. He said he feels optimistic in light of this good news.
“All I have to say with this is that we did it once with polio and we could sure do it again,” Macadangdang said.
Women in Computer Science requested $1,196 for four tickets to the remote Grace Hopper Celebration. The board approved in full.