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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Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Join our newsletter

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

Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

A guide to the 2024 Student Government Board election

Sarah+Mayer+poses+for+a+photo.
Image via Student Government Board
Sarah Mayer poses for a photo.

Pitt students will have the opportunity to cast their votes for various candidates running in the 2024 Student Government Board elections on Feb. 27. Three slates, and a total of nine candidates, are all running to fill nine spots on the board.

Pitt students are allowed to vote for one presidential candidate and up to three different board members. Students can vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on SGB’s website on election day. SGB will announce the results that same night during their weekly public meeting in Nordy’s Place.

Blank Slate

The Blank Slate consists of candidates Sarah Mayer, Lauren Rubovitz, Maddie McCann-Colvard and Ashley White. Mayer is the only presidential candidate running in this year’s election.

The Blank Slate campaign focuses on “writing your own perfect Pitt narrative,” according to Mayer, SGB’s current vice president of policy.

“I’ve been involved with student government since I’ve started here at Pitt, so I’ve kind of seen the ins and outs of the organization,” Mayer, a junior neuroscience and psychology major, said.

Mayer’s future initiatives include integrating mental health days into the academic calendar through the calendar committee at Pitt, making sure mental health crises on campus are better addressed by expanding the Higher Education and Assessment and Response Team and increasing the accessibility of funds to students on campus.

“I think a really big goal I hope to work towards next year is broadening SGB’s depth of perspective by not only collaborating with students outside of SGB, but also bringing other student leaders to the table,” Mayer said. “I think there is a big disconnect between this organization and the student body.”

Rubovitz, a sophomore politics and philosophy major, is currently SGB’s communication director.

“I think there are a lot of things that could be changed to make [SGB] more accessible to students and get more student-focused.” Rubovitz said.

If elected, Rubovitz said she hopes to lead multiple initiatives that help protect the environment, such as creating a food waste task force to combat food waste in the dining halls.

“I remember last year seeing big trash cans full of food, and that was very frustrating for me because I thought this could be composted and that would be transformative,” Rubovitz said.

Rubovitz said she wants to ensure that new construction on Pitt’s campus allows student mobility and safety and that Pitt is developing sustainable buildings. She also hopes to push the Pitt administration to divest from fossil fuels.

McCann-Colvard, a sophomore finance major, served as a member of the allocations committee her first year and is currently serving as the allocations chair. 

“I want to run for a board member position so that I can continue to help students and create a positive change in the Pitt community,” McCann-Colvard said. 

If elected, McCann-Colvard hopes to work with the Career Center to promote relationships with the Alumni Network with the goal of increasing student exposure to professionals. 

“Making these connections have really helped students be successful, whether it be securing a summer internship, learning more about what it is like to work in that industry or getting an entry-level job,” McCann-Colvard said. 

McCann-Colvard is also hoping to work with the Student Organization Resource Center, if elected, to help with the transition to the Experience Pitt Platform. She also hopes that in the future, there can be a platform for student organizations to submit purchasing forms asynchronously. 

“This will increase the accessibility for students to make purchases and streamline operations within SORC,” McCann-Colvard said. 

White, a junior psychology major, is currently serving as a board member and is the diversity, equity and inclusion liaison. White hopes to continue working on improving disability resources, and, if reelected, White said she hopes to work on academic policies that hold professors accountable for following students’ accommodations.

“I have accommodations and I have had professors who have completely disregarded my accommodations,” White said.

White also hopes to increase the diversity, equity and inclusion grant for student organizations, which is currently $500, to match the rate of inflation.

Advocate Slate

The Advocate Slate consists of candidates Katie Emmert and Sanai Overton.

Emmert, a junior political science and law, criminal justice and society double major, is currently a board member and participates in advocacy groups for sexual assault awareness. She said if reelected, she hopes to improve survivor support and sexual assault prevention on campus and interaction with the Title IX office.

“I really would like to expand sexual and reproductive health care resources on campus,” Emmert said.

Along with this, she hopes to support students who are renters off campus by “holding landlords accountable.”

Overton, a sophomore political science and psychology major, plans to collaborate with Emmert to “advocate” for students on campus that are underrepresented. 

“Me and Katie are interested in advocating both on and off campus,” Overton said. “We want to make sure students are able to be supported and heard and have access to what the university is offering.”

As SGB’s current wellness chair, Overton said she hopes to continue improving systems in place and help Pitt work towards improving diversity and inclusion with the Civil Rights and Title IX office. 

“Students who are underrepresented can have a difficult time advocating for themselves. A lot of my initiatives are centered around this with these students,” Overton said. 

Envision Slate

The Envision Slate consists of board member candidates Mercy Akanmu, Evan Levasseur and Neal Gupta. 

As a group consisting of only first-years, the candidates hope to “envision” a future with them on the board. 

Levasseur, a public health major, said he decided to run after seeing the board’s ability to implement change on campus. 

“I am currently on the First-Year Council, but we don’t really get a lot of opportunities to make changes on campus,” Levasseur said. “I want to have the opportunity to represent students on campus.”

Levasseur said he hopes to establish a student-run emergency medical system and increase the amount of substance abuse resources on campus. 

As another member of the First-Year Council, Gupta, a biology major, joined SGB after seeing a flier in his dorm. 

“After joining First Year-Council and getting an inkling into SGB, I want to be able to affect more change,” Gupta said. 

Gupta said he hopes to increase disability awareness and support and create a forum for upperclassmen to mentor underclassmen.

“By creating a program where upperclassmen can mentor, students who are new can get all the answers they need,” Gupta said. 

Akanmu, a neuroscience and history and philosophy of science double major, said she decided to run for board due to her experience as a first year student at Pitt. 

“I believe that the variance between my age and my educational status provides me with a unique opportunity to be a representative for my graduating class that can advocate for our future needs instead of just our current/past ones,” Akanmu said. 

Akanmu said she hopes to improve the shuttle system at Pitt and increase diversity in all fields and majors.

About the Contributors
Emily Handrahan, Staff Writer
Emma Hannan, Staff Writer