SGB welcomes students during first meeting

Student+Government+Board+held+a+public%2C+in-person+meeting+in+the+William+Pitt+Union+Tuesday+night.+Pictured+speaking+is+President+Harshitha+Ramanan.

Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Student Government Board held a public, in-person meeting in the William Pitt Union Tuesday night. Pictured speaking is President Harshitha Ramanan.

By Kiera Ledermann, Staff Writer

During the first in-person Student Government Board meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Harshitha Ramanan welcomed students to Nordy’s Place on Tuesday evening.

“It is so good to see everyone in person rather than a tiny box on the screen,” Ramanan said at the first meeting of the semester. “This is a new kind of academic year for us. We are incorporating some virtual learning and trying to adapt a new kind of in-person learning that is safe but also in accordance to what students need right now.”

Ramanan encouraged students to utilize SGB resources to help them transition from online to in-person instruction. Ramanan said both the Fix it Pitt! and Pitt Concern Connection are available for students to voice concerns — everything from COVID-19 to dining.

Over the summer, Danielle Floyd, a board member and vice president of initiatives, and Lily Schneider, the wellness committee chair, met with various student organizations to plan 18 events for Mental Health Awareness Month in October.

Floyd also said she is continuing to work with Julia Le, the diversity and inclusion committee chair, to update a list of student organization contacts. Floyd said she also plans to revise the Students of Color in Solidarity Task Force charter alongside the involved groups.
“I am continuing to work alongside our Diversity and Inclusion chair Le in continuing to solidify the charter for the Students of Color in Solidarity Task Force, the Task Force that aims to facilitate meaningful understanding and ultimately build solidarity between the underrepresented groups on campus to better amplify our voice,” Floyd said.

The LGBTQIA+ Task Force, established by Tyler Viljaste last year, is working with the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Affairs to recruit two new staff members dedicated to LGBTQIA+ affairs at Pitt, according to board member Caroline Goodwin. Goodwin also said the task force will work with OEDI on a new lgbtqia.pitt.edu web domain, and plans to work with Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost of student affairs, and Carla Panzella, the dean of students, on an initiative dedicated to creating a physical center on campus.

Board member Nikhita Chakraborty and Dominic Victoria, the community and governmental relations committee chair, said they’ll work together to rewrite an SGB statement from last year which urged Pitt to remain neutral toward the graduate student unionization effort to include the ongoing faculty unionization election.

“We want it to be more broad and actually include faculty efforts as well as they recently had their elections,” Chakraborty said. “We’ll be getting the results of that soon and actually rewriting the entire resolution to reflect the results of that.”

Ramanan officially appointed three vice presidents within the board, two co-chiefs of staff and the three communications directors:

  • Vice president of operations, board member Aboli Kesbhat
  • Vice president of initiatives, board member Danielle Floyd
  • Vice president of governance, board member Ryan Murphy
  • Co-chiefs of staff, Joe Landsittel and Tyler Viljaste
  • External communications director, Gopika Pillai
  • Art director, Elisha Sidhu
  • Communications director, Preeti Venkat

Ramanan concluded the meeting by encouraging interested students to reach out to committees or board members to get involved in their task forces or projects.

“If you are just generally interested, we would love to have you sign up to get our newsletters and have you added to the student leader database,” Ramanan said. “Please don’t hesitate to contact us for anything this upcoming year. We are here to work with you to make this the best undergraduate experience for each student here at Pitt.”

Allocations

The allocations committee reviewed seven requests for a total of $14,587.50. The committee approved a total of $4,115. Three requests required board member approval.

The Mars Ice team requested $3,613.20 for travel expenses for the NASA Mars Ice competition. The board said it chose not to fund the cost of registration because the team paid for registration previously, and the allocations manual prohibits funding meals at conferences. The board approved $1,226.40.

Chabad House requested $2,500 to fund their upcoming Yom Kippur celebration. The board approved in full.

The Ping Pong Club requested $4,359.30 to purchase new tables, paddles and balls. The board approved $2,000.

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