‘For the last time, end report’: SGB sheds tears, passes bill at last spring meeting

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

Zoom screenshot

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

By Millicent Watt, Senior Staff Writer

Student Government Board’s Tuesday evening meeting was filled with tears and gratitude as seniors gave their last reports. In his opening statement, outgoing SGB President Eric Macadangdang humorously said the year of virtual meetings is finally coming to an end.

“After months of clicking links, opening and closing chats and making sure I was in fact unmuted, the end is finally here,” Macadangdang said.

While the meeting was mainly dedicated to goodbyes and thank yous, SGB voted to adopt a series of governing code changes and to defer a final vote on a major set of elections code revisions to next fall, as well as appointed nominees onto the allocations, judicial and diversity and inclusion committee.

But before getting into board reports, Macadangdang commented on the verdict of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer found guilty on Tuesday afternoon for murder and manslaughter for the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. Floyd’s killing sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and demands for police accountability and justice for victims of police brutality.

Macadangdang said he joins those who appreciate Chauvin being held accountable for his actions but are still “struggling” with a sense of justice.

“I join with everyone in taking the time to recognize the accountability that was able to be brought forth today, but stand with everyone still struggling to sense that we have actually achieved full justice, because we haven’t,” Macadangdang said.

Macadangdang said he hopes the verdict acts as a “very long, overdue catalyst for brining the fundamental types of changes that would not even have made the murder and trial a reality.”

Tyler Viljaste, outgoing vice president and chief of cabinet, said the LGBTQIA+ task force released its “live” report and petition to garner student support. The report can be updated and revised as students continue to provide feedback and recommendations.

SGB also voted to adopt Bill 2021-3, introduced at last week’s public meeting. The bill’s revisions include redefining the Assembly, SGB’s definition of a “student” and the vice president positions, as well as redistributing responsibilities among the three vice presidents. The bill’s purpose is to better align SGB’s governing code and Constitution so the documents are no longer in opposition with one another. The bill passed with full board support.

SGB then tabled Bill 2021-4’s vote until next fall to allow the board and elections committee more time to discuss revisions to the bill. The proposed bill included recommendations from the Election Procedure Review task force, which included delaying election result announcements by 24 hours, expanding SGB’s list of sanctions and removing complainants from the infraction hearing process and having the elections committee conduct independent investigations instead.

Ben King, outgoing vice president and chief of finance, said everyone is “pretty much in consensus” but some details still require time for fine-tuning.

“We have reached the conclusion that we are not able to … get that bill to a position that we’re all comfortable voting on it, at this point,” King, the task force’s vice chair, said. “Everyone, I think, is pretty much in consensus on the big topics, but the details are always a little finicky and we just don’t want to push it.”

During the meeting, Macadangdang also reflected on SGB’s accomplishments within the past year, including helping Pitt with its reopening strategies, lowering the Student Activity Fee, updating governing documents, creating task forces and holding a variety of events.

Macadangdang said SGB’s success this year is “not singular to one person,” and thanked all of SGB’s members for persevering through this unprecedented year.

“The entire year is the tremendous, collaborative nature of it all,” Macadangdang said. “For myself this is what I am most grateful for, the fact that we had board members, committee chairs, committee members, First Year Council members, students and professional staff and others who took the year head on, despite the circumstances. And this is where all the thank yous are due.”

Macadangdang said it’s “a little bit nauseating” to hear people say that “change is not possible,” or changes that do occur are “crumbs,” but this change can happen if students are motivated to make a difference.

“The world is not well, but it can be if we’re here to help it get better,” Macadangdang said. “This realization should in fact be a catalyst for action and progress. One that the next board and the next president and the next set of committee chairs, committee members, FYC members and students at large can be a part of, but only if we try.”

Viljaste, who is an incoming co-chief of staff, said he is excited to work alongside president-elect Harshitha Ramanan and see what they can accomplish together.

“I’m excited to work with you next year and see what we’re able to accomplish together,” Viljaste said. “You’ve got a big job to fill in Eric’s footsteps, but I know you’re determined and have a good team by your side, and I know you’ll do great.”

As SGB continues to transition from the outgoing members to the incoming members, new committee members of the allocations, judicial and diversity and inclusion committees were appointed.

Isabel Weir, incoming allocations committee chair, announced next year’s allocation committee members:

  • Rahmat Obanikoro
  • Jhanvi Dasaka
  • Molly Hayden
  • Alexis Distefano
  • Benjamin Nguyen
  • Luke Reinhard
  • Carson Hawk
  • Mary Omer
  • Mike Zangus
  • Nathan McLaughlin

Stephen Jacobus, reappointed as the judicial committee chair, announced next year’s judicial committee members:

  • Megan Stafford 
  • Karen Enomoto
  • Rachel Black
  • Barrie Wiener
  • Sam Mueller
  • Minna Kuriakose
  • Leonie Finke
  • Ahna Romanski

Julia Le, incoming diversity and inclusion committee chair, announced the new diversity and inclusion committee members:

  • Emilia Nirmala
  • Kayla Henderson
  • Aditi Sridhar
  • Anushay Chaudhry 
  • Alexa Pierce
  • Jhanvi Dasaka
  • Yitian Wang
  • Selam Mekbeb-Gillet
  • Ivy Chang
  • Bhuvitha Chagantipati
  • Shaughnessea Richardson

Cedric Humphrey, outgoing executive vice president, said although this past year is not what he originally imagined SGB being like, he does not regret joining, leading him to have the “greatest journey” he has ever been on.

“When I made this decision last winter to run again, this is definitely not the year that I imagined, but if I could go back and tell anything to me, sophomore year without SGB, I’d tell him that he’s about to embark on the greatest journey that he’s ever been on,” Humphrey said.

Macadangdang said SGB and its members have made him into the person he is today, for which he is “eternally thankful.”

“I think about the people who have come and gone before me, and the people I will leave behind as I graduate,” Macadangdang said. “And now, each and every person, no matter their position or affiliation, has brought me to become the person I am today, and for that I’m eternally thankful for this family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I will end my report, for the last time.”

Allocations

SGB’s allocations committee had $560,000 to distribute to various student organizations. Altogether, the committee had six request modification and 88 supplemental requests, which totaled $400,532.61 — $157,395.44 requested last spring and $243,137.17 in the fall.

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