Eric Macadangdang, president of Student Government Board, addressed the recent spike in COVID-19 cases at the board’s virtual Tuesday night meeting. Macadangdang said the uptick in cases is a large concern for SGB and campus at large.
“There is no bigger elephant in the room University-wise right now than the number of cases we are seeing of COVID-19 on our campus,” Macadangdang said. “We’re in the home stretch of this semester, but sadly we are seeing numbers that are quite alarming, so please stay vigilant, and stay safe.”
SGB’s weekly meeting followed several hours after the University’s Tuesday COVID-19 case report, which showed 74 new COVID-19 cases between last Friday and Monday. In response to the recent spike, the University moved back to the Elevated Risk posture on Monday and started a campus-wide shelter-in-place three days earlier than scheduled. The University’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office said it suspects this spike is from students attending large gatherings over Halloween weekend.
Board member Kathryn Fleisher said students should think about the potential consequences before attending large gatherings.
“Make sure you’re social distancing, wash your hands often, report any violations to the University and for the love of all things holy please do not go to parties,” Fleisher said. “It’s not worth it.”
Aside from its COVID-19 discussion, SGB introduced a new bill and a new resolution. Board members also discussed initiatives to improve student worker compensation and dining services on campus.
Elections chair Olivia Bartholomew introduced board bill 2021-2, which will provide updates to SGB’s elections code for the upcoming 2021-22 elections. The bill will enact several changes, such as the removal of the $50 candidate deposit and expediting the election codes violation hearing process for the 72 hours before polls open. The bill also adds language allowing for more flexibility surrounding elections procedures in accordance with the University’s operating posture.
Fleisher also introduced board resolution 2021-2, which states SGB’s support for an amendment to PA Act 111 of 1968. Act 111 of Pennsylvania says police and firefighters are not allowed to strike, and provides for disputes about union contracts or other matters to go to binding arbitration.
Macadangdang said SGB is pushing for the amendment of Act 111 because it feels the current law protects police from being held accountable for misconduct.
“It practically shields law enforcement from due accountability, and it allows for the instances of officers that have been fired for misconduct to be re-hired by the department next door,” Macadangdang said. “Of course, in any other profession we might think that’s a little unjust, so we believe that this resolution is important to consider.”
Both board bill 2021-2 and board resolution 2021-2 will be posted on SGB’s website for one week for public comment and will be voted on by the board at next week’s meeting.
SGB also discussed its ongoing initiative to improve student worker conditions and compensation on campus. The board has been working alongside Dave DeJong, acting senior vice chancellor for business and operations and vice chancellor of human resources, to try to integrate more student voices into the compensation discussion. Board members are working on drafting a survey for student workers to see how they feel about issues of workplace environment and compensation.
SGB also announced the formation of a joint task force with Pitt’s Resident Student Association to address concerns with Pitt’s on-campus dining services. Tyler Viljaste, vice president and chief of cabinet, said this is the next step in SGB’s ongoing push to generally improve Pitt dining options.
When reflecting on climbing campus COVID-19 cases, Macadangdang said he wants to send a clear message to the student body about quarantining during the final two weeks of the semester.
“I want to make sure my take-home message for students is crystal clear at this moment,” Macadangdang said. “Please, please, please shelter in place, starting now.”
The allocations committee received four requests this week for a total of $706.84. It approved $555.30. None of these requests required board approval.