The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Q&A: Meet the 2023-2024 Student Government Board

Winning+candidates%2C+supporters+and+board+members+celebrate+after+the+Student+Government+Board+announced+election+results+at+their+meeting+on+March+21%2C+2023.
TPN File Photo
Winning candidates, supporters and board members celebrate after the Student Government Board announced election results at their meeting on March 21, 2023.

A new school year means a new Student Government Board. The Pitt News sat down with the new members to ask them questions as they begin their tenure. 

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Ryan Young, SGB President

Q: What does being SGB President mean to you?

Ryan Young, SGB President: Being SGB President means being both the chief advocate of the student body and the executive director of the Student Government Board. In that first capacity, I try to use the platform to advocate passionately for the interests I was elected to represent. The privilege of SGB is the ability to more easily and candidly reach administrators at the University, and I really try to bring the student voice into those meetings. 

In the second capacity, I work to uplift the other members of SGB as they work on their own initiatives. Overall, it is really important to me that we are both using our platform as best we can to advocate for students and are an accessible resource for students to exercise our resources and services.

Q: What are your favorite parts about being on SGB?

Sarah Siddiqui, Vice President of Operations: There are so many things that I really love about SGB. It’s been a really great opportunity for me to have an avenue to advocate for students, because students often have a lot of concerns. And it’s nice for them to have student representatives who are there to solely advocate for them.

Sarah Mayer, Vice President of Policy: I get to talk to so many students. I feel like a lot of students on campus feel like there’s no way to have that direct communication and have people take their concerns seriously. So being in a position [like this] allows me to advocate for other students, and just see what’s up on campus and change things that need to be changed.

Katie Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Initiatives: I really like the environment. You do a lot of different tasks and initiatives and you actually see tangible things. I can actually see the accomplishments and I think it’s very, very valuable. 

Ashley White, Board Member: I’m really able to meet with a lot of other people and share different ideas, like getting to know more about what’s going on campus. My main thing is advocacy and I love that we all have different goals with the same [broader] goal, that we just want to make campus a little bit better for everyone.

Olivia Rosati, Board Member: One of my favorite parts about being involved with SGB is getting to work firsthand with University officials who make decisions for the rest of the student body. And being able to connect students who wouldn’t otherwise know about these issues.

Braydan Issermoyer, Board Member: Being on SGB is just super amazing just because of the community dedicated to a better place and I love being with them. We have a lot of access to upper level administration to really push for changes. So it’s always very nice to be able to meet with people and express the concerns of students and actually get feedback from administration all the way up to the Chancellor.

Katie Emmert, Board Member: It’s a really awesome mechanism for advocacy on campus, and I’ve been able to see the inner workings of a university. You don’t really see it unless you’re talking to the administration about a problem. It’s very energizing to be amongst these people, working on really cool initiatives that are for the people.

Q: What are some of your goals for this year?

Young: I am looking forward to continuing my work with sexual misconduct prevention with our new Support, Advocacy, and Prevention committee as well as work on restructuring SGB through the new Future Planning Task Force. As an organization, we’re also working to refresh our student services, including our allocations process, and will be producing a number of exciting events including our Mental Health Awareness Month and Democracy Week. 

Overall, my main focus is supporting our Board Members and Chairs as they see through their own initiatives and grow as student leaders.

Siddiqui: To create a Pitt ID app. It would basically integrate Panther card functionality into your phone so you wouldn’t have to carry around [a Panther card]. Another thing that I’m really passionate about is improving communication and outreach between students and SGB. 

There’s a lot that SGB can do to help students. We have so many student services available, but I think that we missed the mark in the actual outreach to students.

Mayer: I’m working with President Ryan Young to take a deep dive into the Board and see how we can adapt it to work better for a lot of students on campus. I want to take a dive into how we can kind of push out to students. 

I also want to work on allocations policies this year, to make that more accessible to students. The allocations manual is really confusing, so that’s one of my bigger goals. 

Fitzpatrick: I’m working on the disability ad-hoc committee. Our main goal is generally supporting students with disabilities to work directly with the office and other University entities to work towards making Pitt a more accessible place, and making students with disabilities feel more accepted and supported on campus.

White: I’m hoping to work with Katie Fitzpatrick on the disability ad-hoc committee, which we talked about last week. I know accessibility is a big thing on this campus. 

Matt Jurich, Board Member: To help start an election festival, and ensure that students who need to miss class to carry out their civic responsibilities can. [Also], to support all workers and unions at Pitt by developing relationships with them to hear what they need assistance with and then advocating for those changes in policy work and communications with school administrators.

Rosati: One is student worker rights, generally, but raising the minimum wage for all student workers. Some of them are still getting paid $7.25 which is ridiculous. Improving access to the counseling center, making it more accessible. Shuttle services, specifically Safe Rider, making sure that they’re accessible and convenient and functioning the way that they’re intended to function. And my big goal is for the University to begin divesting from fossil fuels.

Issermoyer: I want to support the rest of the board members in any way I can. I’ll also especially be working with academic affairs chair Bohl because I’m the academic affairs liaison, including on open syllabi statements.

Emmert: This year, I’ll be chairing the renter’s first ad-hoc committee. The goal there is to make sure that tenants are aware of their rights and their responsibilities and that they’re aware that landlords and developers are the problem in Oakland. I think when we look at the housing problem in Oakland, there’s really no incentive for landlords to provide quality housing. 

We were talking about doing the Title IX survey, because the unfortunate reality is that a lot of students who’ve gone through the Title IX process have felt further re-victimized and traumatized by the process, and that’s not okay. So we’re gonna see what we can do to make it more humane and make sure survivors are actually represented.

About the Contributor
Adrienne Cahillane, Senior Staff Writer