CGS Student Government aims to re-establish itself this year

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Alyssa Carnevali | For the Pitt News

CGSSG, an elected group of 17 individuals, represents all College of General Studies students. CGSSG’s goal this year is to re-establish itself and build a strong foundation going forward for future leadership.

By Elizabeth Primrose, Staff Writer

The College of General Studies Student Government will work this year to prove that student government can actually work for students, according to President Ryan Yeager.

“I want us to be vocal this year,” Yeager, a junior public service major, said. “Not only to just get our name out there, but also to just make a difference and prove that student government can work for students, especially nontraditional students.”

CGSSG, an elected group of 17 individuals, represents a relatively small group of 750 College of General Studies students compared to the total of roughly 19,000 undergraduates at Pitt. According to Yeager, the goal for CGSSG this year is to re-establish themselves and build a strong foundation going forward for future leadership.

While the group could not do much last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, CGSSG Vice President Madison Mascari said the board is excited for in-person events this year.

“There really wasn’t too much we could do [last year]. It was generally really tough coming up with things that people wanted to go to,” Mascari, a junior natural science major, said. “So this year we are so excited that we are able to have these in-person events.”

According to Mascari, CGSSG’s virtual events had low turnout despite efforts to bring students together.

“Last year ended up being a lot of Zoom movie nights,” Mascari said. “We just tried to find ways to get people to come together, but when you’re doing things like that, it’s very hard to get a good turnout.”

While the board plans to have more in-person events this year, Mascari said they also plan on building and making up for the time they lost last year.

“Right now, our main focus is building,” Mascari said. “We kind of started from nothing last year. Last year the board was great, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like we were so sheltered in what we were able to do.”

Mascari said the new board is excited to leave a lasting impact at Pitt during their time on CGSSG.

 “We are all so excited to get out there and start chasing some initiatives and creating some actual, permanent impact,” Mascari said. “I am confident that if we put our name out there we are going to live up to what we say we are going to do. I genuinely think that our board last year compared to this year is a complete 180. We have such a great group of people that I think genuinely care about the impact that they are leaving at Pitt.”

While Mascari said there are no specific events planned yet, she said CGSSG plans to have events for Mental Health Awareness Month in October, as well as a nontraditional student’s week in November. Mascari, who also served on the board last year, said she is excited for the new opportunities that fewer COVID-19 restrictions can bring to CGSSG’s event planning.

“We plan on doing some stuff for nontraditional student’s week,” Mascari said. “The opportunities feel a lot more endless than they did last year because I feel like, finally, we are getting the opportunity to show people we exist.”

CGS has many nontraditional students, which includes but is not limited to veterans, single parents and older adults who decide to come back and finish their degree. Mascari said CGSSG wants to recognize and acknowledge the nontraditional students in CGS, as they are often overlooked by Pitt administrators.

“We really want to recognize and meet the needs of our nontraditional students and we are trying every way possible to make that happen because we think they are a very overlooked demographic when it comes to college students,” Mascari said. “It is really important that they are recognized and that they also understand that they have all the same resources that we would provide any other student.”

Jessica Rolke, advertising chair of CGSSG, said she is looking forward to using her role to reach out to nontraditional students.

“At our last meeting we were talking a lot about helping nontraditional students,” Rolke, junior legal studies and administration of justice major, said. “So, I think I am just looking forward to that — to just helping our nontraditional students. I feel like people don’t really think of nontraditional students as much.”

Yeager said he had never previously served on any student government boards before being elected CGSSG president. He said his passion about providing opportunities for all students, such as nontraditional students, pushed him to run last year.

“For a really long time, I didn’t really think student government could work. I wasn’t really a fan of it,” Yeager said. “But I think CGS is really unique as they are the home of nontraditional students at Pitt and I’m really passionate about providing education accessibility opportunities for all people, and that’s why I ran for it. I’m hoping that I can start to make student government work for people.”

Through his work with CGSSG this year, Yeager wants to prove that student government can work and prove itself through what it can do.

“Similar to proving to myself that student government can work, I would also like to prove that to other people,” Yeager said. “Hopefully, I can restore some good faith in the things that student government can do.”

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