SGB encourages students to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines

Student+Government+Board+held+its+weekly+meeting+on+Tuesday+night+via+Zoom.

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Student Government Board held its weekly meeting on Tuesday night via Zoom.

By Millicent Watt, Senior Staff Writer

Pitt Student Government Board President Eric Macadangdang opened the board’s Tuesday evening meeting by encouraging Pitt students to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines due to Pitt moving back to the Elevated Risk Posture and instituting an early shelter-in-place.

“Although unfortunate, these are necessary measures to help mitigate against more potential spread of the virus, both on and off campus,” Macadangdang said. “What these changes mean is we all must do more to help make sure we are keeping both ourselves and our friends safe. This means only leaving your home or apartment for necessities such as groceries or safe exercise and recreation.”

Macadangdang also said the COVID-19 Medical Response Office changed its testing protocols to allow all Pitt students to be tested if they feel that they have been exposed to COVID-19, “no questions asked.”

“So if you feel that you may have been exposed, have not been following proper protocols or simply just want to know if you have COVID-19, please, please, please schedule a time to come for testing,” Macadangdang said.

Steve Anderson, an associate dean of students and the residence life director, said with about 24 days until graduation and final exams coming up, students should continue to follow safety guidelines.

“I know this is a stressful time as we get ready for finals and everything like that but please make sure you’re doing things with appropriate physical distancing, wearing your face coverings, things of that nature,” Anderson, SGB’s adviser, said.

Because many bars around Pitt’s campus opened recently after a state rule change, Anderson said students can file public health reports with the Allegheny County Health Department if stores, restaurants or bars are not following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Anderson and Macadangdang also said students who travelled over the holiday weekend should quarantine either for 10 days, or seven days with a COVID-19 test taken on the third day.

Introduced at last week’s public meeting, SGB passed resolution B.R. 2021-4, which supports the removal of criminal history-related questions on Pitt’s admission applications. SGB will post the final resolution under the “legislation” tab under “resolutions” on its website, according to Macadangdang.

After extending the submission deadline, SGB announced Trisha Shah, Millie Rodriguez and Andrea de Leon as the winners of the public art competition. All Pitt students can vote for their favorite piece on SGB’s website until April 13 at 5 p.m. The artwork with the most votes will then be “transformed” into a mural on campus. Macadagndang said no final location has been chosen, but the “ultimate decision will be a collaboration between the selection committee and the final student artist.”

According to Macadangdang, SGB received about 30 applications for 2021-22 committee chair openings, which closed Monday night. Open positions included the academic affairs chair, community and governmental relations chair, wellness chair and facilities, technology and transportation committee chair. Macadangdang said an interviewing committee will review applications and conduct interviews with hopes of announcing the new committee chairs at next Tuesday’s public meeting.

Applications to chair standing committees — including allocations, judicial and elections — along with the diversity and inclusion chair are still open until April 12 at 5 p.m.

Stephen Jacobus, judicial committee chair, said he encourages students to participate and join SGB so Pitt’s student body can be better represented.

“If you’re interested in any other committees, I encourage everyone to participate as much as possible within SGB,” Jacobus said. “The more people who participate within committees or any part of SGB, the better the organization is going to be, the more representation the student body is going to have.”

Cedric Humphrey, executive vice president, said representatives from the Civic Engagement Hub met with Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner, Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement Kathy Humphrey and representatives from PittServes to review their business plan proposal. Cedric Humphrey said the task force received “good feedback,” and plans on having “something to report in terms of actionable steps” before the school year ends.

Tyler Viljaste, vice president and chief of cabinet, said the LGBTQIA+ task force has extended its timeline by two weeks to update its resources proposal document with more community feedback. Afterwards, Viljaste said the task force will begin “signatory and stakeholder outreach,” as well as gathering public signatures. The task force then plans to meet with Pitt’s upper administration in May to discuss recommendations and next steps.

Danielle Floyd, wellness committee chair, and Preeti Venkat, academic affairs committee chair, said they will begin reviewing the 85 self-care day surveys they received. Floyd and Venkat created and sent out the survey because many Pitt students were disappointed with Pitt’s self-care days, which replaced both Thanksgiving and spring break. Students received one self-care day in the fall, and two in the spring, per Macadangdang’s request.

According to Floyd, 35 student organizations signed up to have “mental health liaisons,” which are leaders in student organizations dedicated to promoting mental health and mental health resources among organization members. Floyd said through training the mental health liaisons, she is addressing common misconceptions surrounding Pitt’s Counseling Center.

“What’s really interesting is that through the training I think we’re really starting to address some of the common misconceptions about the Counseling Center, which is really exciting and encouraging for making sure that the community is aware of the different resources that the Counseling Center offers,” Floyd said.

In his closing remarks, Macadangdang said the transition to the new board, as well as incoming president Harshitha Ramanan — who attended this week’s meeting — is “well underway.” The new board and president will be inaugurated April 15 and will formally take office on the last day of the semester.

Macadangdang encouraged Pitt students to keep in touch with SGB through attending office hours and public meetings, submitting Fix It Pitt! forms and engaging with SGB’s social media platforms.

“It’s never too late to let us know your ideas or concerns so that we could better serve and advocate for students at Pitt,” Macadangdang said.

Allocations

The allocations committee received two requests for a total of $2,387.99, and approved $2,288. Two requests required board review.

Pitt’s Engineers Without Borders requested $36,114.37 last week to pay for latrines, a mason and travel expenses. The vote was deferred to this week. The board approved to amend the request to $33,776.06, and the board approved the amended amount.

Omicron Kappa Delta, an honors society for Pitt student leaders, requested a general expense of $2,280. The board voted to defer the vote until next week, but because the request is time-sensitive, SGB held an additional public meeting at 11 p.m. and approved in full.

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