SGB discusses committee plans, debates allocations


By Pamela Smith, Contributing Editor

Student Government Board debated on allocation requests for the first time “in a long time,” according to board member Daniel Temmallo. 

“I think every public meeting needs to have this kind of debate,” Konstantinos Papazekos, a sophomore history of art and architecture major and attendant of the meeting said. “It was most definitely informative on the [processes] that are gone through apparently in private.”

Student Government Board held its weekly meeting in Nordy’s Place Tuesday night. The board discussed plans for several initiatives, including progress on the planned dining and sexual violence prevention ad hoc committees. The board also debated on two allocations requests. 

Board member Ryan Young said a charter for an ad hoc committee on sexual violence prevention is in progress. Young also said he joined the Chancellor’s Advisory Council to Prevent Sexual Misconduct.

“There’ll be other people on that committee that also serve on that … it’s certainly something I’m focusing on,” Young said.

Alex Hodge, the new president of Interfraternity Council, announced that IFC, the Collegiate Panhellenic Association and National Pan-Hellenic Council are hosting an event focused on sexual violence Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the seventh-floor auditorium of Alumni Hall. Recently, the former president of IFC sparked controversy over a statement addressing the reported sexual assault inside of the Cathedral of Learning.

“Due to space constraints, it is Greek life only for right now. However, if any of the members of the board would like to stop by, you’re more than welcome,” Hodge said.

Board member Corbin Makar said the dining ad hoc committee met with Pitt Eats to discuss dining concerns, such as the new kiosk and app ordering system as well as accommodating dietary restrictions

“The current meal plan options were modeled after 2019, which was pre-pandemic, so obviously people have shifted the way they eat food, so we’re going to start working with them on how to better support that,” Makar said. “If you have any questions about the ad hoc committee, or how to join, please reach out to me.”

Keep It Real, a service organization that tutors children of the Somali-Bantu refugee community, requested $1,755.23 to fund Uber trips for tutors to the Northview Heights neighborhood for tutoring sessions. The allocations committee recommended to deny the request in full on the basis of available reasonable alternatives for transportation, namely the Pittsburgh Regional Transit buses.

Swati Ghosh, a junior chemistry major and business manager of Keep It Real, said the organization requested the funds because it takes almost an hour by bus to reach the neighborhood. Ghosh said it “casts a bad impression” on the organization and the University if tutors miss tutoring sessions.

“The directors that we work with over there, they told us to not stand outside of the bus stops for any period of time really … it’s not the safest area to be in,” Ghosh said. “Having Ubers that we can schedule ahead of time to pick us up directly and bring us back would be safer for Pitt students.”

Board member Alison Linares Mendoza agreed timeliness and safety for this service activity are “very important.”

“The fact that you’ve heard from people there, from people who attend and have gone personally to the event, not just from our perspective on Googling things, that you think it’s not the safest … if there’s any slight chance that anything negatively could impact not just the turnout but your safety, I think it should be SGB’s duty to ensure that we don’t leave that risk,” Linares Mendoza said.

Board member and vice president of governance Derek Dressler disagreed.

“I think there’s inherent risk everywhere in the world, no matter where you go,” Dressler said. “I think in the timeliness aspect, which I think to me is the most crucial part of this, more than the safety aspect … it isn’t like you only have two people going to this club day after day after day, it’s an organization … So having the opportunity to spread that within your ranks, I thinks yields strongly in favor of bussing.”

After five minutes of debate among board members, the board voted 4-3 to approve the request in full.

The board also received a request from American Sign Language Club for $4,946.31 to send students and professors to Gallaudet University, the largest deaf university in the world, for immersive ASL practice.

Dressler said he was against funding the allocation request because ASL club did not document any attempted fundraising for the trip, referred to as “shared responsibility” in the allocations manual.

“I do not feel comfortable spending $5,000 of student money on the basis that they have had no shared responsibility,” Dressler said. 

Board member Temmallo said the board could not approve the request as no representative from ASL club was present to answer board questions.

“We do not have the ability to make a final determination on the amount approved. We had a question,” Temmallo said. “They said … 40 people attending and then in parentheses was four professors. We don’t know if that four professors, which we cannot fund for, is part of that 40 or in addition to the 40. So we don’t know if we can fund nine rooms or 10 rooms.”

After another five minutes of allocated debate time, the board voted 6-1 to table the request for review at a later date.

Steve Anderson, associate dean and adviser for SGB, said he “appreciates the conversation” that occurred at the meeting.

“I also think it’s important that people have their different views and appreciate different perspectives, and it’s really sort of the purpose of being here at a university,” Anderson said. “It’s what we do on bringing different people together from different backgrounds, different places, different thoughts, different ideas, and I think that just enriches our experience.”