SGB hosts PittServes rep, discusses civic advising


Alyssa Carnevali | Staff Photographer

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

By Donata Massimiani, Staff Writer

Harshitha Ramanan, the Student Government Board president, said students have contacted her about several concerns, and she provided responses to issues such as Wi-Fi connectivity problems and the sports dome’s planned demolition.

SGB held its weekly meeting Tuesday evening in Nordy’s Place, and members discussed the upcoming March 1 elections, updates from Board of Trustees meetings and shared information about a recent Amos Hall incident.

Ramanan said the best way to address any Wi-Fi or technology issue on campus is by contacting Pitt IT directly. She also said some students have been asking how to get into contact with the dean of students, provost, chancellor and other top administrators. Ramanan recommended visiting office hours or filling out contact forms provided on their respective Pitt websites.

Ramanan also discussed concerns from student sports organizations about the sports dome’s eventual demolition as part of the Victory Heights project, but said the demolition is not happening soon.

“Student Affairs is actively working with Pitt Athletics to ensure that students have the appropriate spaces to utilize, and I will ensure that I am keeping you updated every step of the way because I also hope to help with this process,” Ramanan said.

Sydney O’Hara, civic and community advising program manager in the Office of PittServes, made an appearance to answer questions about civic advising and PittServes.

Marcus Edelstein, the chair of the elections committee, asked if PittServes is doing anything to help the homeless community. O’Hara said PittServes is working directly with other organizations on campus to serve that community, but there is not a “specific organization” within PittServes dedicated to this.

“However, there are some really amazing initiatives that support students on campus,” O’Hara said. “Like at the student office of sustainability, the Pitt Pantry is a really great resource for students who are struggling with food insecurity or homelessness.”

Board member Matt Moore asked what the most common question is that O’Hara receives as a civic adviser. O’Hara said she most commonly discusses how to start an organization on campus or an initiative at home to serve the personal social justice interests of students.

An audience member asked what PittServes is doing to serve the needs of Black and Latinx students. O’Hara said she often thinks about how to get students of color to engage with their services, but added that there is “no perfect answer.”

“The first thing I will do as an adviser is get into spaces where Latinx students are involved and engaged in and connect with them and invite them to come meet with me,” O’Hara said. “I intend to go to them, so they don’t have to come to me, which I think is going to be beneficial.” 

Board member Caroline Goodwin said she is assisting with interviews this week for the new staff positions focused toward LGBTQ+ students. She also attended a recent Board of Trustees committee meeting, and recommended downloading the Rave Guardian app.

Goodwin said she met with the Public Safety Advisory Council where Pitt police Chief James Loftus clarified the details of a recent Amos Hall incident.

“There was somebody in the lounge that wasn’t supposed to be there, and luckily a bunch of girls reported it and the police kicked him out,” Goodwin said. “He’s now been fired, so it really is showing that when people see something wrong and report it, the police will come and fix it and we can make things happen.”

Board member Brennan Conway also attended a recent Board of Trustees committee meeting focused on athletics. He said this year Pitt placed 10th out of 358 D1 schools in the Directors Cup — a composite ranking of how well a school’s sports teams are doing — which was the highest rank Pitt has ever received.

He also said he will be meeting with Joel from the Financial Wellness Office alongside SGB president Ramanan and Mike Zangus, the chair of the board’s academic affairs committee, to talk about how they can improve financial literacy and University’s financial wellness programs

Edelstein announced “targeting campaigning” for the 2022 SGB elections begins Wednesday at midnight. He said this means candidates and slates will campaign all over Pitt’s campus.

“What they can do is table outside William Pitt Union, in the quad, in towers, they can chalk, talk with potential voters and do a lot of things in trying to maximize their votes in winning,” Edelstein said. “Election day is on March 1 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”

Ramanan concluded the meeting by urging students to visit Pitt’s CoVax clinic if they still need to get any COVID-19 vaccinations or booster doses. She reminded students that all Pitt students have access to a free New York Times account and information for how to sign up can be found on SGB’s instagram page or website.


Men’s Water Polo Club requested $1,815 to pay their 2021 dues to continue membership in the Collegiate Water Polo Association. The board denied the request in full because the majority of their games have already been played and the organization has an obligation to pay these fees for games that have already been played. The committee considers this deficit spending, according to Isabel Weir, the chair of the allocations committee.

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club requested $3,045.96 to pay for the lodging and transportation costs of an invitational competition in Tennessee. There are 28 people attending, but four are graduate students and three are coaches. The board approved $2,662.60 to cover the cost for all undergraduates.

The Pitt Squash Club requested $1,599 for 20 new rackets, a set for the whole team to use during practice. The board approved the request in full.

Audiology and Hearing Club requested $2,001.04 to pay for food, lodging, airfare and registration costs for five students to attend a conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The committee has a four-person conference cap and cannot fund any food expenses at the conference, so the board approved $1,474.84 to cover the costs for four people. 

Rainbow Alliance requested $35,000 to host its annual pride week at the end of March and bring in guest speaker Indya Moore for the event. The expected attendance of the event was originally 50-100 and the committee’s recommendation was to deny in full because every student only pays $200 each academic year for the Student Activity Fee, and the event would cost $350-700 per Pitt student.

Laura Stravach, vice president of Rainbow Alliance, said the organization’s new leaders recently learned that when Rainbow has brought in “big name” speakers in the past, the events host 300-400 student attendees. Rainbow Alliance adjusted their expected attendance to be 300-400 attendees.

Aboli Kesbhat, SGB’s vice president of operations, moved to amend the motion from denying the request in full to approving the request in full and it was seconded. The board approved the request in full.

The National Society of Black Engineers requested $3,023.72 to form a flight scholarship to cover airfare for their yearly NSBE convention hosted by the national chapter in California. The scholarship will be offered to underclassmen with a strong interest in going or students with financial need. The board approved $2,326.20 to cover the costs of the lowest flight price.

The Latino Medical Student Association PLUS requested $2,268 to send four students to a conference in Philadelphia. The committee can only fund for costs that are documented and are limited to funding for one hotel room for conferences. The board approved $1,009 to fund bus tickets for four people, registration fees and one hotel room.