SGB committees assist with Board projects

By Marissa Meredyth

The 2011 Student Government Board has almost completed its first semester’s worth of work —… The 2011 Student Government Board has almost completed its first semester’s worth of work — with some serious behind-the-scenes help from a handful of committees.

SGB committees and their leaders work in conjunction with at least one Board member and play an active role in assisting the Board with its various initiatives. Some committee chairs create and implement projects of their own.

Board President Molly Stieber said committee chairs are appointed by the Board following an application process. This year’s committee chairs were selected from a pool of 30 applicants and named during the Feb. 1 Board meeting. So far they have introduced projects in areas ranging from web design to student civic engagement — complementing the Board’s work.

Only three of the current nine standing committees are written into SGB’s constitution. These include the Elections, Judicial and Allocations committees. The Board, however, has the option to create “ad hoc” committees that are centered on current Board members’ projects.

Here is a rundown of the standing committees, their leaders and the various projects each has taken up:


Stieber said Board member Lauren Jentleson campaigned on issues involving transportation, and so the ad hoc committee of Transportation and Safety was added for the 2011 year.

James Snow was appointed as chairman of the new Transportation and Safety Committee.

The junior — majoring in urban studies and history — already had his committee put together a rider’s guide to help students cope with bus route changes — they can be found online and in the SGB office.

“Our major priority has been dealing with and preparing students for the 15 percent service cuts put into effect by Port Authority on March 27,” Snow said.

The committee has also been lobbying to let legislators know what a key factor transportation is to young adults choosing what university to attend. Snow also said he was working on possibly creating a way for students to get to the Waterfront on the weekends — through a private transportation company.

“But that is still a long way from completion,” he said.


Environmental Chairwoman Rebecca Schroeder — a junior majoring in environmental studies as well as physics and astronomy — said students could see some of her projects being implemented in the Fall.

Schroeder has been working closely with Board members Emily Hoover and Ryan Gayman on a “green checklist” initiative that student groups will submit with allocation request forms.

“For now, this would act as more of a survey to indicate to us what student groups are doing sustainably and what they might not be that we might be able to change,” Schroeder said in an e-mail. “Also, we hope that it makes them think more about sustainable practices when planning the logistics for their events.”

On-campus fraternity houses will also receive recycling bins soon, compliments of an Environmental Committee project.


Elections has also completed the legwork on a number of initiatives this semester.

Kari Rosenkaimer — a junior majoring in psychology, who currently serves as Elections chairwoman — is working on making freshman more aware of SGB elections to hopefully increase voter turnout in the fall.

Additionally, she wants to spread knowledge about the election process, so if a student group member wishes to run for SGB, he will know how.

Student turnout in Board elections remains low, although it increased from 13 percent in 2009 to almost 19 percent in 2010, when Lena Wickenden held the position.


Judicial Chairman John Cole, working with Rosenkaimer, hopes to implement last year’s failed change to the SGB Constitution that would allow students to vote for all eight Board members, an increase from the current five votes allowed.

Cole — a sophomore who is majoring in psychology — said the resolution will be voted on through a campus-wide referendum during the next election.

Governmental Relations

Kyle Miller, Governmental Relations chairman, said Pitt Day in Harrisburg was his largest project by far, but his work isn’t completely done. This year’s Pitt Day took place in early April and featured a bus trip to Harrisburg for students to lobby against education funding cuts.

Miller — a junior majoring in political science and history — said he will continue to lobby against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts to higher education. He will also work on voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts for the municipal primary as well as general elections.

Public Relations

Public Relations Chairman Alex Amati — a sophomore majoring in marketing and finance — said his main goal has been to inform the student body of the Board’s lobbying efforts over the proposed budget cuts.

“For the future, I plan on getting SGB involved with students and student groups in a nonprofessional, out-of-the-office way to build up moral and support for elections come next fall,” he said.

Academic Affairs

Pooja Patel — a freshman majoring in political science and pre-med — is working closely with Board member Alexander Zimmerman as Academic Affairs chairwoman.

She is working on extending library hours, introducing an international relations major and expanding the number of classes that satisfy general education requirements — one of Zimmerman’s popular campaign promises.

Patel said she is still in the talking phases, but that the administration has been willing to listen to her ideas.

“International relations will be definitely a long-term project, as it requires quite a bit to implement a new major,” she said.


Lastly, the Board’s webmaster has worked to update SGB’s website.

Matt Schroeder — a freshman majoring in computer science — said he has one project he’s working on with the Board. The need for a new website came with the creation of the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students.

“It is up and running, but since all of the other schools that are part of PASS are preoccupied with their elections, we haven’t really been able to put much information up,” Schroeder said.