*ENDORSEMENT* Editorial: Experienced leader best to take over Board

By Staff Editorial

Decision time. Today, Pitt students exercise their democratic powers once again — not to vote… Decision time. Today, Pitt students exercise their democratic powers once again — not to vote for far-away senators or congressmen as they did on Nov. 2, but to elect new members to the University of Pittsburgh Student Government Board.

The choices the student body will make today come at a crucial moment in the University’s history, a time of tuition increases, permanent overflow housing and a controversial alcohol policy. The new Board will have a hugely influential role in addressing these and future issues, and that’s why The Pitt News felt it incumbent upon us to talk with each presidential candidate individually, to deliberate over the past week and to now make a formal endorsement. But before we get to the juicy stuff, let us first present several valuable ideas offered by each of the three candidates, which we’d like next year’s Board to consider.

Benjamin Vaccaro, a junior economics major and member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, wants to improve relations between the Greek community and campus officials by scheduling regular meetings between them. We approve of this proposal — heightened communication can never hurt. He also wants to improve SGB’s representative quality and transparency by promoting voter turnout and by establishing office hours in Towers lobby. Face time with students in Towers is an especially good idea, as SGB meetings are notoriously under-attended and the Board’s day-to-day activities are less-than-comprehended by most students.

Matt Weiss, a junior neuroscience and chemistry major and current SGB Allocations Committee liaison, has also generated proposals that should occupy the time of the future Board. Noting that Pitt’s Emergency Notification Service has previously not sent out text alerts when assaults occurred in Oakland, Weiss demands reform of the ENS. Given the stakes at hand, we believe his concerns deserve to be addressed. He also seeks to bring together student governments across Pennsylvania for a state-wide college student coalition, and although implementing such a plan is unlikely in the short term, Pitt students certainly could use more clout in Harrisburg.

Molly Stieber, a junior philosophy and political science major and current Board member, also proposed insightful ideas worthy of future consideration. With the federal government’s refusal to allow tolls on I-80 punching a $472 million hole in state transportation funding, Stieber wants to make sure Pitt students are not adversely affected. Since so many students rely on public transit to get to jobs or even to class, serious advocacy on this issue should indeed be a huge imperative for next year’s SGB. Stieber also wants to educate more people about the complex SGB allocations process by holding an “Allocations 101” seminar. As people have historically found the allocations process complicated, such an educational offering could only help SGB meet students’ needs in a more streamlined fashion.

With their bright ideas, commitment and indubitable Pitt pride, all three candidates are clearly good ones. It’s just that we believe one rises above the rest.

For that reason, The Pitt News endorses Molly Stieber for SGB president.

Although during Tuesday’s debate she really should have been able to recite her full list of responsibilities as business manager of SGB, we believe Stieber would bring a lot to the Board if elected. For one, her commanding personality clearly meet an ideal mold of an effective leader. As well, being the only current Board member seeking a future SGB spot other than John Hasley, Stieber can apply the lessons from a full year of experience on the Board to the challenges she faces next year. In her year of involvement, she has also demonstrated leadership and drive in pushing the University Book Center to ultimately offer more affordable eBooks on its textbook list, and she’s hoping to help expand the eBook options. Perhaps most importantly of all, she has built her presidential platform on practicality — with her experience as a Board member, she knows what’s accomplishable and she’ll invest herself in getting it done.

The Pitt community is lucky to have a ballot replete with such quality candidates, and we believe it will be even better off if Molly Stieber leads SGB next year.

If you disagree with us, that’s OK — neglecting the polls, however, is not.

This story has been corrected to fix an error in the date of the presidential debate.