SGB congratulates faculty on forming union, discusses possible ‘green fee’

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

Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

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

By Kiera Ledermann, Staff Writer

Pitt’s Student Government Board congratulated faculty at their Tuesday public meeting on voting overwhelmingly to form a union. Out of 2,203 votes, 1,511 faculty members voted in favor of unionization, 612 voted against and there were 80 challenged ballots. 

“The final vote resulted in a 71% to 29% victory for union organizers,” board member Daniel Temmallo said. “And this union is the largest new union to win an election in 2021.”

Along with the faculty union, SGB discussed student organization budgets, spring SGB election and a potential “green fee.”

President Harshitha Ramanan opened the meeting by announcing that the SGB website is now up to date and will soon include meeting minutes and “other useful resources.” Ramanan said she encourages students with suggestions to email her at [email protected].

“This also means we can start adding additional information to create more transparency with the student body. If anyone has any ideas, I am always happy to hear them,” Ramanan said.

Aboli Kesbhat, board member and vice president of operations, said she is reworking the internal budget so that students working with SGB can “have a little bit more money” for their initiatives and programs.

“Now that we are coming out of a virtual year, there are more things that students are wanting to do,” Kesbhat said.

Danielle Floyd, board member and vice president of initiatives, said she attended a Monday meeting with the Mental Health Student Coalition and University Counseling Center to discuss a new mental health liaison position that organizations can opt into. Floyd said liaisons will participate in a training through the UCC, called the Mental Health Champion Certificate Program, which is also open to non-liaisons.

Marcus Edelstein, the chair of the elections committee, said he created a Facebook group for people interested in running for board. Edelstein said students who would like to be added to the group should contact him.
Isabel Weir, the chair of the allocations committee, reminded students that budget meetings — which are optional for non-governance groups — will take place on Nov. 4 and 5. According to Weir, student organizations interested in submitting a budget should contact their liaisons, who can advise on whether it is necessary and provide the resources necessary to create a budget.

Dominic Victoria, the chair of the community and governmental relations committee, announced the “Be A Good Neighbor: Resident Resources and Tenant Townhall” event on Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the William Pitt Union’s lower lounge. According to Victoria, the event will include an open forum in which Pitt representatives, community organizations, nonprofits and Oakland landlords will answer student questions.

“We think this info is super valuable, that people need to know how to deal with landlords and learn how to read their lease,” Victoria said.

Annalise Abraham, Student Office of Sustainability liaison, said she met with the Green Fund manager to discuss implementing a “green fee.” Abraham said the fee would be a new charge to students and would expand the Pitt Green Fund, which serves to finance student-initiated projects and programs related to sustainability.

“This is something that exists in many forms at schools across the country, which is essentially a small fee students pay which goes into a fund to support sustainability efforts on campus,” Abraham said.

During one of the night’s open floors, a student raised concerns about the “green fee” amount and the impacts it could impose on students.

“With tuition being so high in general, adding another fee to students could be putting on more pressure,” the student said. 

Abraham said she understands that this could be a concern for students and that the initiative is still in the “very, very beginning stages.” Before the initiative progresses, Abraham said she plans to “discuss it and get as much feedback as possible.”

Caleb Shook, the vice chair of the CGR committee, encouraged the board to write a statement requesting Pitt’s neutrality toward staff unionization efforts, which began this academic year. Shook said he does not speak on behalf of SGB.

“Because we’re so early on in that process, there’s a great opportunity for all of you on the board to come together on a statement that will show your support for the union and request neutrality from Pitt very early on,” Shook said.

Ramanan thanked Shook for bringing the idea to the board, and said board members will “talk about that at a later point.”

Ramanan concluded the meeting by informing attendees that there will be a speaker from Pitt IT at a future public meeting where students can voice concerns about Wi-Fi and other technological issues. Ramanan also encouraged students to get flu vaccines. 

“With the weather getting cold, this is prime time for the spread of all sorts of viruses and bacteria,” Ramanan said.

Allocations 

The allocations committee reviewed five requests for a total of $13,116.70. The committee approved a total of $1,045. Of the five requests, one required board approval. 

Pittsburgh Club Baseball requested $8,220.85 to fund travel and lodging for a competition in Florida over spring break. The board motioned to postpone the vote of the allocations request until next week, as there was not a representative from the organization present. 

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