SGB presidential candidates debate again

By Marissa Meredyth

SGB presidential hopefuls faced tough questions last night that demonstrated the candidates’… SGB presidential hopefuls faced tough questions last night that demonstrated the candidates’ different levels of experience with the allocations process and other potential duties.

Although open seats remained in Nordy’s Place, dozens of students showed up to hear candidates Molly Stieber, Ben Vaccaro and Matt Weiss debate the workings of SGB for the second time in two days.

Moderators included current SGB President Charlie Shull, Elections Committee Chairwoman Lena Wickenden and Judicial Chair Scott Krzywonos.

The question of how each candidate plans to oversee the Student Activities Fund — $2.3 million generated by the $80 Student Activities Fee — remained a central issue during the debate.

Shull also quizzed candidates on the current allocations process, for which some candidates seemed unprepared.

Vaccaro could not answer any questions regarding the allocations process, saying that it was his personal ignorance and mistake.

“I have not served on SGB in the past,” Vaccaro said. “My lack of info right now does not indicate a lack of intent.”

Stieber, a current SGB Board member, was asked what a “SAG group” was and how the allocations process worked for those groups.

Stieber’s answer that they are groups that must submit per-semester budgets to SGB was sufficient for Shull, though he corrected her for wrongly attributing the “A” to mean “Affairs.” The correct answer, Shull said, was “Student Affiliate Group.”

Moderators asked Weiss, currently an allocations liaison for the SGB Allocations Committee, to name other student groups and how the allocations process worked to distribute funds to them. He named student groups such as Open Books and explained how they submit supplemental requests during the semester.

The moderators also asked the candidates to name groups they thought received too much funding from the Student Activities Fund, or too little.

Stieber and Weiss agreed that Panther Prints receives too much money for how small the organization is. Stieber said charity-oriented groups don’t receive enough funding. Charitable events are not in line with the Student Activities Fund, Stieber said, which is why they are underfunded.

Weiss named Open Books as receiving too little funding. The group only submitted one allocations requests this year and it was denied, Weiss said.

Other topics covered included plans each candidate would implement if elected, a discussion of the importance of SGB participating in Pittsburgh’s Student Government Council and relationships with media sources such as The Pitt News.

Shull mentioned problems in the past between Board members and the media, asking how the candidates intended to address this problem.

All candidates agreed on the importance of remaining available to the media and its role as a necessary outlet for student awareness, and all agreed that the Pittsburgh Student Government Council played a central role in uniting students throughout the city on issues like transportation and parking.

Lastly, each presidential hopeful got to ask a total of two questions to their fellow candidates.

Weiss directed both his questions at Stieber, asking her to state her constitutional roles as SGB’s business manager. He then followed that up by naming a duty she did not mention: updating the public about Board expense reports at weekly meetings.

Stieber said she was not aware of the duty.

Weiss, in an interview following the debate, said the duty was important because it allows the student body to understand how the Student Activities Fund is being spent outside the allocations process.

In closing remarks, Stieber emphasized that there should be some retention from year to year within SGB, whereas Weiss capitalized on the others’ lack of understanding about the allocations process. Vaccaro reiterated his platform.