‘Here to say thank you’: Shapiro visits Pitt students on campus


Ethan Shulman | Staff Photographer

Josh Shapiro speaks with Pitt students in Nordy’s Place on Thursday.

By Alexandra Ross, Senior Staff Writer

Gen Z plays a crucial role in political progress today, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro. 

“You are the ones changing the dynamic here,” Shapiro said. “You’re the ones changing the conversation.” 

Shapiro visited Nordy’s Place in the William Pitt Union briefly on Thursday afternoon. He arrived at about 3:35 p.m., gave a five-minute speech, mingled with students for about 10 minutes and left at 3:50 to attend the Tree of Life commemoration, according to his daughter Sophia Shapiro, a junior urban studies major at Pitt. 

Shapiro originally planned to visit for about an hour, from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m., to “take some pictures, eat some snacks, [and] talk … about what issues are important to” students, according to a joint Pitt Democrats and Pitt for Shapiro Instagram post. As he started his speech, Shapiro apologized for arriving late and said he had been “running all around” Pittsburgh. He also took a moment to emphasize his personal connection to Pitt. 

“I’m really pleased to be here as a Pitt dad,” Shapiro said. “It’s so good to be able to come to Pitt and see my kid and see all of you, and I wanted you to know I’m here today to say thank you because you’ve been doing incredible work to try and defend our democracy and our fundamental freedoms.”

Josh Shapiro holds up a pumpkin with a carving of his face on it next to Pitt junior Evan Hollander.
(Ethan Shulman | Staff Photographer )

Shapiro went on to speak about the importance of college students in democracy as well as the role of abortion and gay marriage rights in the upcoming midterm elections. Shapiro said he supports a woman’s right to get an abortion and the right to marry someone of the same sex, two issues he said are “on the ballot” this year.

“These are battles I think we all thought we fought and won, or our parents fought and won, except they’re now back because of where we find ourselves around politics,” Shapiro said. 

Margaux Engel, a sophomore history major, said she wished there was more time during the event to ask Shapiro questions, though she liked what he said in his speech and understood the time constraints. 

“He definitely covered the important subjects for me, which I appreciated,” Engel said. “I would have liked some more questions, but, you know, he’s obviously a very important person and that’s totally understandable.” 

After his speech, Shapiro shook hands with his student supporters and took lots of pictures and selfies — “Let’s take a point five,” he said, referring to a selfie using the 0.5 wide lens option. He also took selfies on students’ BeReal accounts and filmed a TikTok with sophomore marketing major Arjun Manjunath for the Students4Shapiro TikTok account.

Pitt students watch Josh Shapiro film a TikTok with a student in Nordy’s Place on Thursday.
(Ethan Shulman | Staff Photographer )

Ani Nangunoori, a sophomore computational biology major, said he thought it was “cool” for Shapiro to interact personally with students after the speech. 

“I thought Attorney General Shapiro was really nice,” Nangunoori said. “He seems super genuine, and he took some like, BeReals and pictures with people, so that was cool.”

Jake Lorenz, sophomore political science major and communications director of Pitt for Shapiro, said the group wanted to host the event so students could see what distinguishes Shapiro from his Republican opponent, Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano. Lorenz added that hosting the event in person instead of virtually made it more special. 

“There’s something just intrinsically special about seeing the candidate and hearing them with your own ears, not through AirPods or something like that, so that’s something that we think is of value,” Lorenz said. 

Saskia Van’t Hof, a sophomore digital narrative and interactive design and international and area studies double major, said she thought Shapiro coming to Pitt’s campus showed he cared about college students as constituents. 

“It really kind of solidifies the importance of younger constituents, because I feel like as college students, or even as like teens, sometimes our political views aren’t taken as seriously,” Van’t Hof said. “So it was really nice for him to come directly interact with students.” 

Clarification: The article originally said the TikTok with Manjunath was going to be posted to Shapiro’s official TikTok page. The TikTok was instead posted to the Students4Shapiro TikTok page.