SGB presidential candidates differ in experience

By Erin Block

Students can cast their votes for Student Government Board president and Board members from 8… Students can cast their votes for Student Government Board president and Board members from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Before voting on, read about presidential candidates Justin Romeo and Charlie Shull’s platforms and experience.

Justin Romeo — no slate

This year marks senior Romeo’s second time running for SGB president.

Romeo, who ran for president last year and lost to current president Kevin Morrison, applied to be part of SGB’s food committee, but has not had any formal involvement with the Board. He said he attended one of its meetings this past year.

Romeo, a 22-year-old majoring in economics and political science, said he’s running because he enjoys serving students.

As the student manager for Sodexo at Pitt, Romeo manages almost 100 students — 10 times more than were there when Sodexo started. Romeo hires and trains employees and deals with payroll for work-study students.

“I provide administrative support. I’m used to listening to students’ concerns,” he said.

He is part of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, where he’s worked to increase the number of Bible study groups on campus from four to 26.

Romeo, who is from New Castle, Pa., has worked with Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., as well as the U.S. Department of Commerce.

He bases his platform on transparency, openness and accountability. Romeo said his first action, if elected, would be to create a council of club presidents. The council would bring together representatives from every student organization on campus a few times each semester. He said the students would be able to vote and oversee SGB’s actions, so the Board can be held accountable.

“Students at Pitt congregate at the club level. That’s where their passion is. It’s where they spend all their time. It’s where they make friendships,” he said.

Romeo said it’s fitting that SGB have a relationship with student organizations that extends beyond the allocations process.

“Many organizations don’t need or ask for a lot of money. This means there’s no relationship. SGB needs to be a forum for students,” he said.

Romeo said he hopes to increase student involvement with SGB.

“SGB has grown smaller,” Romeo said. “They got rid of committees and shrunk budgets. This cut down on ways that students can get involved.”

Romeo, who will defer law school for one year if elected president, entered the SGB race as a late candidate, saying he wanted students to have more than one presidential candidate from which to choose.

Some, including his competitor Charlie Shull, have criticized Romeo’s late candidacy. Shull said Romeo joined not only at the metaphorical “eleventh hour,” but “more like the eleventh hour and 59 minutes.”

Charlie Shull — United Pitt slate

Charlie Shull wants to use his experience as a leader in other University organizations, such as Interfraternity Council and Pitt Mock Trial, to show students he’s ready to be SGB president.

A 21-year-old senior, Shull is finishing his degree in politics and philosophy and obtaining a minor in legal studies.

Shull was born in Easton, Pa., but considers Pittsburgh his home. Shull is a member of the first generation in his family to attend college.

Shull joined the judicial committee of SGB during his freshman year. Throughout his years at Pitt, he has also been involved with Panther Grappling and the Spanish Club. He is a former business manager of Pitt Mock Trial. He joined Kappa Sigma and served as social chair before becoming vice president of judicial affairs and then president of the Interfraternity Council.

Since Shull has been president of the IFC, the group has seen a membership increase of 65 percent and has started an endowment fund. In 10 semesters, IFC plans to raise $50,000.

Shull served on SGB’s judicial committee during his freshman year. He ran for a position on the Board his sophomore year but lost. He’s served as a Board member for the past year.

Shull said he thinks his biggest accomplishment is organizing the Symplicity website. The website, which should begin working this spring, will allow students to streamline their organizations by creating rosters, keeping track of membership and having constant communication with SGB, Shull said.

Shull said he wants students to know that he promised Symplicity and followed through, but that it’s not the sole aspect of his platform.

Being president, he said, “is about being a representative for the undergraduate student body.”

Shull said he thought the current Board worked to improve the group’s relationship with administrators, portraying itself as serious, professional and competent. However, he said the Board needs to continue to focus on improving its relationship with students as well as administrators.

Romeo commended Shull on the Board’s forums and hearings for students during the G-20 Summit. Romeo, however, believes the communication between students and SGB needs to improve.