Four run for president

By Lindsay Carroll

‘ ‘ ‘ If you thought the presidential campaigns were over, you thought wrong. There are four… ‘ ‘ ‘ If you thought the presidential campaigns were over, you thought wrong. There are four people running for president of Pitt’s Student Government Board. ‘ ‘ ‘ Former College Democrats member Dan Gore, SGB allocations chair Kevin Morrison, current board member Amanda Reed and Sodexho student manager Justin Romeo set up Web sites and Facebook groups to spread the word about their candidacies. ‘ ‘ ‘ The candidates sat down with The Pitt News to talk about their reasons for running for president. Dan Gore’ ‘mdash; Revolution slate ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt Revolution started when its members, Dan Gore, Resident Students Association president Alicia Simpson and engineering student Joe Rendemonti, all voiced complaints about student government, said Gore. ‘ ‘ ‘ Gore, the son of immigrants from what is now Ukraine, speaks fluent Russian and is the vice president of the Russian Club. He has served as the political steering chair of College Democrats and was the founder of Pitt’s Students for Barack Obama chapter. ‘ ‘ ‘ Gore said he thinks being new to SGB is an asset. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I don’t have experience wasting money,’ he said. ‘I don’t have experience making poor choices. I don’t have experience wasting money towards organizations that don’t directly support Pitt students.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Paying the $4,250 membership fee for the national student-lobbying group United States Student Association was an example of supporting an indirect organization, he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ Gore said his slate wants to work with the University to cut wasteful spending as tuition rises. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We want to restore fiscal integrity to SGB, as well as lobby the University to amend its spending habits,’ said Gore. ‘We want to lobby the University to stop spending money on these programs and events that no one really goes to so we don’t have to have such a tuition increase.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ He said an example was the Nordy’s Place game room, which he said was aesthetically pleasing but had no pragmatic benefit. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘You notice no one’s in there,’ he said, ‘but I wonder how much money that costs.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Gore’s slate also proposes putting the allocations chair appointment in the hands of student organizations rather than SGB itself, for greater accountability in allocations decisions. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘SGB has consistently failed to heed the interests of students at the University of Pittsburgh,’ said Gore. ‘We feel it doesn’t adequately represent students. We’re just trying to restore integrity to the organization and ensure that it becomes the voice of students.’ Kevin Morrison ‘mdash; One Vision One Voice slate ‘ ‘ ‘ Kevin Morrison said that from the first time he visited his sister at Pitt while he was in high school, he had no other choice for a college. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I love Pitt so much,’ he said. ‘I know it sounds cliche, but I love the idea of giving back to the students.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Morrison, a former Eagle Scout from York, Pa., interned for the board his freshman year and has been with the allocations committee for two years. ‘ ‘ ‘ He said he’s seen both good and bad in SGB. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Because of my experience, I’ve seen where SGB needs to go,’ he said. ‘SGB is in decline. There’s a disconnect between SGB and what the students need.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Morrison, whose slate members are Phi Delta Theta president Lance Bonner and Chi Omega member Kate Marchetti, said one major part of their platform was to get Pitt students more involved in city politics. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘If you got an eighth of students to vote in local politics, we could control politics,’ said Morrison. ‘ ‘ ‘ The board’s constitution asks SGB to represent the needs of students at federal, state and local levels, and Morrison said that lobbying elected officials, especially local ones, is an important part of his slate’s platform. ‘ ‘ ‘ Morrison and his fellow slate members say on their Web site that they want to encourage more students to vote, partly because Pitt students contribute to the city economy. ‘ ‘ ‘ Morrison said students at Pitt and other universities in Pittsburgh need to vote together for issues that are important to them, such as safety and public transportation. ‘ ‘ ‘ He added that he wants to encourage more dialogue between student organizations and the allocations committee. ‘ ‘ ‘ The committee forms recommendations for SGB on which student group activities to fund and how much money to give them. ‘ ‘ ‘ Morrison said that if elected president, he’d look at students equally. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘When we look at students, we look at engineers, greeks, African Americans, white kids,’ said Morrison. ‘I just see Pitt students.’ Amanda Reed ‘mdash; Students First slate ‘ ‘ ‘ Current board member Amanda Reed choose Pitt as a second choice to Georgetown. She followed the advice of friends and mentors, who suggested she choose Pitt with a scholarship, and found that it was a great school. ‘ ‘ ‘ Reed, a Harrisburg native, said she decided to run for SGB last year after she got involved in the United States Student Association, a national student lobbying group whose merits have been debated by some current board members. ‘ ‘ ‘ Reed said she heard about her friends’ victories through USSA, such as how University of California students convinced their state system to divest from companies affecting the genocide in Darfur. She said she wanted to bring that kind of representation to SGB. ‘ ‘ ‘ Reed has served on SGB for the past year. She’s worked on projects such as revamping the Pitt Compass student directory and, with the help of board member Ryan Haddad, on Pitt Make a Difference Day. ‘ ‘ ‘ Reed also chairs the multi/bi-racial caucus in USSA. Some of her projects, such as the ‘zero award’ faculty diversity project, the student speak-out in April and her work with the Student Vote Coalition, are affiliated with USSA. ‘ ‘ ‘ This year, Reed will run with current board member Nila Devanath and Inter-Fraternity Council vice president Charlie Shull. ‘ ‘ ‘ Reed wants to implement mandatory out-of-office hours for board members, where members would do their work in a popular place on campus, such as the Litchfield Towers or the Hillman Library. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I feel like we lose touch,’ she said. ‘If you’re out on campus and not just in the office, doing the ‘same old, same old,’ I think it’s going to change how students see student government and how we see Student Government Board.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Reed said the out-of-office requirement and creating an Advocacy Task Force that talks to students directly can help students get more involved in SGB. ‘ ‘ ‘ She said the current board doesn’t meet its potential. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘You pay tuition to go here, so if you want something done, you should be able to get it done. It’s not right that the administration doesn’t put students first,’ she said. ‘I want to make sure that students are the first consideration.’ Justin Romeo ‘mdash; Integrity slate ‘ ‘ ‘ Justin Romeo, the newcomer in the election, wasn’t always sure he wanted to run for SGB. ‘ ‘ ‘ But after reading the other candidates’ platforms, Romeo said, he decided to run. He said he didn’t think the other candidates’ platforms were good enough. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I feel like my ideas are pretty solid with how we can work some integrity into SGB,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ Dressed in a suit with a Pitt lapel pin, Romeo said he manages about 75 students who work with Sodexo. He has worked with the company since his freshman year and was promoted to student manager last year. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I have a lot of experience working with students and addressing their concerns,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ His platform also consists of making the food committee that works with Sodexo a permanent SGB committee. Currently, Reed serves as liaison to the committee from SGB, but Romeo said the committee should have an official committee chair as well as liaisons to the greek community to get their involvement in Sodexo philanthropy events. ‘ ‘ ‘ Romeo, who is from New Castle, is a junior at Pitt majoring in economics and political science. He’s been involved with Pitt’s College Republicans and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. ‘ ‘ ‘ Romeo worked with U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, through the Pittsburgh Foundation program ‘- before the senator was faced with felony charges, he added. He also worked for U.S. Rep. Phil English, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania’s third Congressional district. ‘ ‘ ‘ Romeo, who is running with Ada Noh and Whitney Wilson, said that if elected, one of his priorities would be to restore accountability to SGB. ‘ ‘ ‘ He said that at the meetings he’s attended, he saw some board members text-messaging or having side conversations during the meeting. He said that these actions don’t seem professional. ‘ ‘ ‘ Romeo also calls for more SGB oversight by student organizations, as well as requiring committee or board members to submit an agenda instead of saying ‘no report’ at a meeting. He said that the SGB Web site should be updated more often. ‘ ‘ ‘ As of yesterday, only board members Nila Devanath and Amanda Reed had updated their blogs since the first week in the semester, and the last meeting transcript available on the SGB Web site was from March 18. ‘ ‘ ‘ Romeo said SGB should use these resources to increase SGB’s accountability and student involvement. ‘ ‘ ‘ Romeo also said that running for president has made him love Pitt more than ever. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘It’s just about going around, talking to people and learning what they’re all about,’ he said. ‘I think we have a really good community here, and I think it could be thriving a little more.’