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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

New SGB task forces, committees aim to improve student life on and off campus

Members+of+the+Student+Government+Board+applaud+during+their+meeting+in+Nordy%E2%80%99s+Place+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+17.+
Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer
Members of the Student Government Board applaud during their meeting in Nordy’s Place on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Student Government Board President Ryan Young announced the creation of multiple new task forces, conditional committees and ad hoc committees in September. 

These include the Future Planning Task Force, Single-Use Plastics Task Force, Dining RSA Ad Hoc Committee and Pitt Workers United Ad Hoc Committee. The Students of Color in Solidarity and Renters First Ad Hoc Committees both began as task forces last year and upgraded to ad hoc committees this year. The Support, Advocacy, and Prevention Committee grew from last year’s Students Against Sexual Misconduct Ad Hoc Committee last year, being upgraded to a conditional committee this year. The Disability Resources Ad Hoc Committee created last spring will remain throughout this school year.

Task forces are intended to focus on solving a specific issue on campus, while conditional and ad hoc committees are more permanent and serve broader functions. Lauren Rubovitz, communications director for SGB, expressed pride in the variety of new task forces and committees SGB has created.

“Overall, we are so glad to represent the diverse student interests through these eight new opportunities, and we look forward to the great work these different groups will continue to do throughout the rest of the year,” Rubovitz said.

The Future Planning Task Force, chaired by Jaydep Halder, is looking into making structural changes within SGB so they can “better serve and meet the needs of students,” according to Halder.

“A large part of what we’ve done so far is simply brainstorming and narrowing down the initiatives that we want to do,” Halder, a junior microbiology and sociology double major, said. “We are [in] the process of still formulating our ideas exactly, and by the end of the semester at the latest, we hope to have all of these established so that we can have that writing phase start, at the very latest, by early spring.”

Halder said the task force is currently looking into changing SGB’s vice presidential system, giving the assembly more purpose and making changes to the SGB constitution. In the future, Halder said he hopes the task force can improve the conciseness of the SGB governing code.

“The governing code, currently, is about 140 pages,” Halder said. “It’s a lot of words, a lot of pages, and so for students to easily access that code and understand it, I think we could make large improvements in how clear it is.”

The Students of Color in Solidarity Ad Hoc Committee meets biweekly with on-campus student alliances and associations to discuss the needs of different minority populations on campus. Ashley White, co-chair of the ad hoc committee, said they see it as a “unifying group for students of color on campus.”

“Being a student of different identities, being a person of color, especially at a PWI, it’s very important for me that not only I’m a voice for Black students, but also for all students of color,” White, a junior psychology major, said. “Being the minority on campus, it’s hard. Especially trying to get support from administration or if you’re having problems, I think it’s really nice to have a community within the greater Pitt community.”

White said they’re hoping the committee can host a “multicultural event” involving food and performances at the end of the year.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real multicultural event at Pitt,” White said. “We see different student orgs put on their own events for their specific culture, but I think it’d be great to have just one night or one day out of the year where all these orgs come together to showcase the different aspects of their different cultures.”

The Renters First Ad Hoc Committee focuses on educating tenants about their rights and the responsibilities of landlords, as well as creating proposals for the development of future infrastructure and housing. Katie Emmert, chair of the ad hoc committee, said the committee began as a task force and looks to advocate for students’ interests.

“We’re going to be trying as a committee to compile a list of priorities for development that students want, which also extends beyond housing, because I think the issue of quality of living,” Emmert, a junior, political science and law, criminal justice and society double major, said. “That includes your access to food on campus or off-campus grocery stores — there’s no grocery store in Oakland — or maybe transportation, because there’s no bus that really goes down to South Oakland.”

Emmert added that although development changes take years to implement, the committee also aims to benefit current students through its various resources.

“Making one more student aware of their renting resources and legal services, I think that’s a success to me,” Emmert said. “I hope that the committee is able to just be a place of resources for students who are struggling.”

Ana Rowley, chair of the Single-Use Plastics Task Force, created the group after a student inspired her to pursue the issue of reducing single-use plastics on campus.

Rowley, a senior environmental science major, said the task force is currently conducting an audit on water bottle filling stations around campus.

“Right now, we have a good list of the amount of hydration stations that are on campus, and so we’re gonna look at where they are, their placement, how accessible they are, and figure out what places would benefit from the installation of hydration stations,” Rowley said.

Rowley added that she hopes more people participate in the task force to tackle the environmental issues on campus they find important.

“I would love for it to be something bigger. It’s honestly whatever people want,” Rowley said. “I really want people to have their own drive and see where they want to take it.

According to the SGB website, The Dining RSA Ad Hoc Committee advocates for students’ dietary needs on campus. The Pitt Workers United Ad Hoc Committee aims to empower workers, including student workers and RAs, at Pitt as well as educate workers on their rights.

The Support, Advocacy, and Prevention Committee, which began as an ad hoc committee last year, intends to “address and end all misconduct on campus,” according to committee chair Jade Chatman.

The committee will target improving support services for survivors of sexual misconduct and Pitt’s Title IX and Student Conduct Policies. They will also promote efforts to improve sexual misconduct prevention, according to the committee’s website.

Chatman said the committee helped facilitate the sexual misconduct section of first-year orientation earlier this year and is working with Pitt administration to begin working on initiatives that accomplish the committee’s goals.

“I really hope this committee stays in the future,” Chatman, a classics and law, criminal justice and society major, said. “I think SGB is a great way to be connected with both admin and students. In the future, all I can hope for is that the committee stays in contact with the people we are connecting with now.”

SGB created the Disability Resources Ad Hoc Committee last spring after they worked with the Autistic Students Union to help advocate for students with disabilities. Katie Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the ad hoc committee, said the committee is working to centralize the information on Pitt’s disability resources and create a more accessible campus for students.

“Looking at housing, not all dorms are accessible,” Fitzpatrick, a junior political science and psychology double major, said. “Sutherland is considered an accessible dorm, but it’s also on upper campus. So looking at each dorm and seeing what is accessible, what isn’t accessible, looking at dining for students with allergies or just dining in general, and giving feedback that way.”

Fitzpatrick said she hopes the committee continues to exist and provide support for students in the future.

“I think there’s always going to be a need to advocate for students with disabilities and always be a need to advocate just for disabilities in general,” Fitzpatrick said. “So I hope that in future years board members and chairs and other folks just continue to pick up this great work and continue to advocate for students at Pitt.”

About the Contributor
Spencer Levering, Senior Staff Writer