SGB working on faculty unionization statement, addresses student concerns

Student+Government+Board+at+its+weekly+meeting+in+Nordy%E2%80%99s+Place.

Rachhana Baliga | Staff Photographer

Student Government Board at its weekly meeting in Nordy’s Place.

By Kiera Ledermann, Staff Writer

While the Student Government Board voted last week not to sign onto a statement written by other student leaders in support of the ongoing Pitt faculty union election, President Harshitha Ramanan said Tuesday that the board is working on its own, but did not say when it would be released.
“Student Government Board has been working on a unionization statement since summer, with our stance focusing predominantly on calling for senior leadership to ensure there’s no interference with the voting process amongst other points of focus,” Ramanan said.

SGB members provided updates at Tuesday evening’s public meeting on various initiatives and projects.

Ramanan said she attended a meeting of the University’s Senate’s Student Admissions, Aid and Affair Committee meeting earlier this week, which included discussions about COVID-19 guidelines and the largest-ever first-year class at Pitt. According to Ramanan, the committee attributed the increase in class size to COVID-19 and Pitt not requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores with their applications.

“These two factors seem to make it really hard to predict who will commit and who will not commit to attending Pitt,” Ramanan said.

Ramanan also announced that a special guest from Pitt’s University Libraries System will attend next week’s public meeting to talk about “some pretty cool research opportunities.”

“Make sure your calendars are marked and if you are at all interested in research, I highly recommend attending next week’s public meeting,” Ramanan said.
Danielle Floyd, the board’s vice president of initiatives, announced the 15 members of this year’s First Year Council, a group of first-year students who are selected to work on SGB initiatives with one of the four conditional committees.

Board member Nikhita Chakraborty encouraged students to “take care of yourself and your body this season” and get flu vaccinations, either at the Healthy U Fair, Pitt’s vaccination center or nearby pharmacies such as CVS or Rite Aid.

Annalise Abraham, the Student Office of Sustainability liaison to SGB, announced the Green Resident Program, a self-assessment that students on and off campus can take to learn about their role in sustainability at Pitt.

“The assessment asks about everyday practices such as in the dorm, with transportation, diet, et cetera,” Abraham said, “Dorm floors can also compete against each other to determine the greenest floor on campus. Green floors are commemorated with a green floor plaque in the lobby of their hall, and the top green floor will receive a Millie’s ice cream party.”

Stephen Jacobus, judicial committee chair, announced that the committee will reopen applications because committee member Ahna Romanski departed the panel after transferring from Pitt.
Sean Melko, a first-year student, said during an open floor that SGB public meeting minutes and agendas should be published and shared with students, and to “codify this requirement in the governing code.”

“How many potentially interested students plan to comment on a proposed resolution or bill, or an allocations suggestion that’s coming from their student activities fee, if they don’t know what’s going to be discussed at these meetings?” Melko asked. “Why should these students who have not attended meetings be left in the dark about what the board has voted on, and what the board has decided?”

Ramanan responded by saying SGB usually posts meeting minutes and agendas, and that recommendations about the website can be directed to the SGB media directors.

“We are working on the website. Typically both the meeting minutes and the agendas will be posted, and we do try to advertise our public meetings.” Ramanan said. “We always love hearing your input and if there is anything specific you’d like to see, I recommend you reach out through our media directors Elisha Sidhu and Gopika Pillai.”

Marcus Edelstein, who said he was diagnosed with strep throat earlier this week, voiced a concern about a recent lack of responsiveness from the Student Health Center. Edelstein said after 20 minutes of calling and not getting a hold of anyone, he ended up driving to several urgent care facilities before finally getting into one to test for strep.

“I don’t care about me, because I have a car,” Edelstein said. “I care about the freshmen and sophomores that don’t have cars. They can’t go 30 minutes out if they have strep, COVID or a disease, they can’t get back to literally anyone at the Wellness Center.”
Ramanan responded by encouraging students facing problems to report their concerns through Pitt Concern Connection, a system that community members can use to report concerns about Pitt-related issues.

“We will work on that but I do want to let you guys know that you have direct access to upper administration too through Pitt Concern Connection,” Ramanan said. “There’s a power in numbers, so when you post your concerns through Pitt concern connection and they read it directly, that helps back up whatever we say.”

To close the meeting, Ramanan reminded students to utilize Fix It Pitt — a tool for students to submit a request for something to be fixed, or have questions about student life at Pitt — and to leave return email addresses.

“If you leave us a question and want us to get back to you and don’t leave your email, that is impossible,” Ramanan said. “So please leave your email if you do have questions.”

Allocations 

The allocations committee heard six requests for a total of $20,598.93. The committee approved a total of $2,354. Of the six requests, three required board member approval. The board approved a total of $8,785. 

The Robotics and Automation Society requested $12,253 for travel and lodging fees for seven competing members and 17 spectators to attend a final competition in October. The board approved $5,000, because this is the cap amount for competition funding.

The Musical Theater Club requested $1,465 for a security and performance fee to book a theater to perform a student-run production of Mamma Mia in February. The board approved in full.

The Hindu Student Council requested $2,622.12 for food and decorations for a Navratri celebration. The board approved $2,320.32.

Editor’s note: Ledermann worked with the SOOS on the Green Resident Program.

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