SGB board, presidential candidates kick off elections with public interviews


Ethan Shulman | Staff Photographer

SGB election candidates during the Meet the Candidates event Thursday.

By James Paul, Staff Writer

Candidates for next year’s Student Government Board began this year’s election cycle at a “Meet The Candidates” event Thursday evening in Nordy’s Place. Two candidates for president and seven for board seats introduced themselves and their initiatives. 

Pitt Tonight host Nick Cassano interviewed the candidates running on the Illuminate slate and the Disrupt slate as well as two independent candidates. Slates are groupings of candidates running with similar goals and initiatives. 

The Illuminate Slate

The Illuminate slate consists of presidential candidate Ryan Young and three board candidates — Katie Fitzpatrick, Sarah Siddiqui, and Sarah Mayer.

Young, a junior math, physics and astronomy major is the current vice president of operations. During the interview, he touted the prevention of sexual misconduct on campus and the change in SGB’s structure to better incorporate the voices of other student groups.

Young said if appointed, he would push to establish a task force to provide educational resources on sexual misconduct and better support survivors of sexual assault.

“I think it’s really important to enshrine in our bylaws in a committee that focuses not just on sexual misconduct prevention, which is something that a lot of people focus on, like education, but also supporting survivors and especially getting knowledge experts on Title XI policy,” Young said.

Fitzpatrick, a sophomore political science and psychology major and the current community and governmental relations chair, said she would leverage a board seat to make financial aid more accessible and form a task force to directly communicate student concerns with the Department of Disability Resources.

Siddiqui, a sophomore political science and psychology major, and the current wellness chair, said if elected she would expand dining options for students with dietary restrictions, promote SGB transparency and launch a Pitt ID app that would allow students to use their phones instead of their Panther Cards. 

“The whole premise is to have Panther Card functionality on an app on students’ phones to make it a lot easier and a lot more convenient for students so you can tap into buildings,” Siddiqui said.

Mayer, a sophomore neuroscience and psychology major, and a current member of the allocations committee, centered her campaign on forming a task force to directly connect student concerns to DRS, push professors to publish their syllabi prior to enrollment and, like Siddiqui, expand dining options.

The Disrupt Slate

Katie Emmert, a sophomore political science and law, criminal justice and society double major, and Olivia Rosati, a junior political science and international studies double major, are both running for board seats under the Disrupt slate, which Emmert said is founded on the question, “What about Pitt pisses you off?”

Emmert said as a board member, she would work on improving “sexual violence prevention, education, Title IX reform and survivor support.”

“Students of color and students in the LGBTQIA community are most at risk to be assaulted on campus, and most at risk to be further victimized by the institutions that we have on campus,” Emmert said. “So when we look at the Title IX office, are we looking at it like the counseling office? Are we best serving and providing for these students?” 

Emmert also said she would work to increase student representation within Pitt’s administration and push Student Health Services to offer abortion medication.

Her running mate, Rosati, who presented remotely via a prerecorded video, said she would push for increased student representation at administration meetings, increase student pay and promote access to health and wellness resources on campus.

“I was in a bunch of conversations with friends where we were all just sitting around complaining,” Rosati said. “I think SGB is a really accurate way to push back against the University.”

Corbin Makar

Corbin Makar, a junior communication and rhetoric and political science double major who currently serves as a board member, is running independently for president. Makar said instead of “overshadow[ing] board members” he wants to transform the presidency into the role of a “representative and facilitator for conversation.” 

“I’m going to do what I want to do, and the board is always there to do their initiatives,” Makar said. “The president should be able to guide them in that sense, and not overshadow them.”

Makar said he would leverage the presidency to raise wages for student workers. Additionally, Makar said he would aim to create an LQBTQ+ resource center on campus and redirect the attention of Pitt’s LGBTQIA Task Force to be more student-oriented.

“We have an LGBTQIA+ Task Force — however, I sat on it last year and it was more staff than student-related,” Makar said. “It should be student-led, in my personal opinion. It should consist of students because ultimately is going to rely on the students.”

Additionally, echoing the sentiments of other board and presidency candidates, Makar said he would make the prevention of sexual assault a “mainstay of student government.”

Matt Jurich

Matt Jurich, a first-year political science and philosophy double major, is running for a board seat because “the most important thing in [his] life is to get the needs of Pitt students taken care of.”

“Above everything else, I’m an empath,” Jurich said. “I really, really feel it when people have concerns. I really want to see the things that they want to get done, get done.”

Like Makar, Jurich wants to raise the minimum wage of student workers as a key part of his platform and said he supports “with every fiber of his being” the rights of student workers and staff members to unionize.

Additionally, Jurich said if elected he would push to create a permanent committee to address sexual assault on campus by providing educational resources. He also said he would leverage the board seat to try and get Pitt to give students national election day off to encourage students to vote.

“I think it’s absurd that we don’t have that, especially because Pitt stakes their image on and  prides itself on being a conscious college,” Jurich said.

Brayden Issermoyer

Brayden Issermoyer, a junior political science and psychology double major who is currently serving as an interim board member, said he is running for a board seat so he can “continue doing the same work that [he] started.”

“So I’m in a very strange position where I was just appointed to fill a board vacancy,” Issermoyer said. “So as part of that [election] I discussed a couple of important issues which I wanted to accomplish while I was on the board for the remainder of this year, which is a very short time.”

If elected, Issermoyer said he would work to improve Pitt’s policies surrounding sexual assault on campus, a key tenet of his previous campaign when running for the vacant board seat.
“Every single candidate has talked about this as a major point for their campaigns,” Issermoyer said. “I think that’s a really great thing because we are going to actually see some changes here. So my major point is that we need better policies regarding sexual violence on campus.”

Echoing another key point from his previous election, Issermoyer said he would use the board seat to address the “mess” of the current Pitt academic advisement procedure. Additionally, Issermoyer said he would try to make DRS easier to navigate so students can access their accommodations.

“I myself do have DRS accommodations, and I refuse to use them because I think it would be too difficult to get,” Issermoyer said.

Makar and Young will publicly debate next Thursday at 8 p.m. in Nordy’s place. Students can vote on March 21 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct that seven, not six, board candidates introduced themselves. The Pitt News regrets this error.