Let me be your leader: SGB candidates talk campaign plans

By Abbey Reighard / Senior Staff Writer

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The three candidates running for Student Government Board president agree on one thing: SGB needs change. 

Andrew Stefanick, Graeme Meyer and Wasi Mohamed are running for Student Government Board president, a term the president will serve for about a year and a half after a referendum introduced by the current Board and passed by the students changed the SGB term from a calendar year to an academic year. 

Last night, the presidential candidates and Board candidates held a meet-and-greet in Market Central at 6 p.m. The candidates were available to answer questions and address any concerns students had about the election process. 

The candidates will hold two more meet-and-greets this week, at the Perch on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. and again at Market Central on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. 

The presidential candidates will meet for a debate tomorrow night at 8 p.m. in Nordy’s Place. 

Andrew Stefanick

Andrew Stefanick, a senior, accounting and economics major, said he thinks Student Government needs to be restructured to address the “sheer lack of interest” from the student body.

“The election process isn’t really working,” Stefanick said. “It’s just eight people who are signing the dotted line and assuming all this power.” 

Stefanick said a student assembly could help with the lack of representation and the current allocation process, but does not have specific ideas on what that assembly would consist of. 

If elected, Stefanick plans to use his term to collect feedback from the student body to see what changes students want to see in SGB. 

Stefanick said when it comes to the allocations process, he still has “a bit to learn.” He added that he wants to separate the board from the allocations process by increasing the threshold, which is currently at $1,200. 

Stefanick was a finalist in the two interviewing processes to replace the three Board members who resigned last spring. During the first round of interviews the Board chose Stefanick’s roommate, current Board member Nicholas Hufnagel. 

Stefanick said the delay allowed him to prepare for this election season. 

Stefanick said he and his slate mates — Jessica Snyder, a junior majoring in resources management, and Jack Heidecker, a sophomore majoring in German and political science — picked the name “Pitt United” to emphasize the need for accurate representation of the student body on Board.

Jade Diamond, a junior majoring in communication and information science, is also an independent candidate affiliated with Pitt United. 

Stefanick said if he wins the presidential race, he would make it a requirement for Board members to attend various student groups’ meetings to get a better sense of what students need from SGB. The current Board holds office hours every week, where students can meet with Board members on the eighth floor of the William Pitt Union.

Stefanick said he also has “personal goals” if he wins the presidential race. He said he intends to give “full and unconditional support” for transgender rights on campus, efforts to stop sexual assault on campus and Take Back the Tap.

“I don’t see the president as someone who should have an enormous amount of initiatives,” Stefanick said. “Their role is to support and assist the student body. 

Graeme Meyer

Graeme Meyer, a junior majoring in engineering and economic statistics, wants to restructure SGB, based on his own experience as a Board member this term. 

First, Meyer aims to start a Constitutional Review Task Force. Meyer said the task force would be made up of Board members and other students outside of SGB who would make recommendations to the Board about a new SGB structure. Meyer said he hopes the task force decides on changes by Fall 2015, so he and the Board can vote on changes by the following Spring. 

Meyer said he also wants to establish specific guidelines and tasks for each Board member, and make those tasks and guidelines public for students who want to run for Board in the future.

“Many people run for Board, and then they realize that it’s not what they expected it would be,” Meyer said. 

Meyer said he thinks resignations from SGB, such as the three resignations that occurred during the current Board’s term, could be prevented if candidates were aware of their responsibilities before running. 

Meyer is running independently on his own slate, 87’s Pitt Proven, but affiliates with the 87’s Pitt Driven, made up of Allocations Chair Nasreen Harun, Board member Meghan Murphy, a junior majoring in neuroscience and political science and Everett Green, a sophomore majoring in finance. 

Meyer said he decided to affiliate with Pitt Driven because students can vote for three candidates for Board and one candidate for president, so the four would not be in competition with each other. 

Meyer helped the 87’s Pitt Driven come up with their 87 initiatives for Student Government. The 87 initiatives are part of the 2025 plan he and the other current Board members put together during their term as well as current Board members’ unfinished initiatives and smaller plans, such as installing more self-service printers.  

Meyer said his experience as a Board member and his work with administrators during his term make him the best candidate for President because he “understands the current structure” and knows who to contact with initiatives. 

“I think it’s very important to have external views,” Meyer said. “But I don’t think it’s appropriate at this stage to have the very top position being someone new [to Student Government Board].”  

Wasi Mohamed

Wasi Mohamed, a senior majoring in history, philosophy of science and neuroscience, doesn’t see the sense in having SGB meetings if no one is attending. Mohamed said there should be more open discussion about issues on campus.

“People only come [to the meetings] for allocations, and then every other seat is empty,” Mohamed said. 

Mohamed said he wants to restructure the committees that work within Student Government. He’s proposing that the committees be more open to students outside of Student Government and flexible, so it would be easier to “create committees when new issues arise,” such as sexual assault on campus. 

Mohamed also aims to establish a campus senate that would focus on campus issues and then propose initiatives to the Board, so that not all initiatives would be coming from Board members. 

Mohamed said he would collaborate with student groups on working on the senate during the spring semester to hear ideas from students and student groups about how the senate should be organized. 

“The name itself, Student Government Board, describes the problem,” Mohamed said. “There is too much emphasis on the nine Board members and not enough focus on the actual issues.”

Mohamed said he decided to form the Bridges slate with Natalie Dall, a sophomore majoring in molecular biology, and Matt Sykes, a junior majoring in industrial engineering, so he could “share [his] experience with younger students who inspire [him].”

“Win or lose, I hope the perspective I have given them will lead to a better Pitt experience,” Mohamed said. 

As a member of the Muslim Student Association, Mohamed said he wrote the initial proposal for the reflection room, now on the third floor of the William Pitt Union. 

Mohamed said being a member of the Resident Student Association and a member of three student government committees — Community Outreach Committee, Traditions Committee and Food Committee — have helped him to become familiar with Student Government and the allocations process. 

Mohamed said he and his slate mates intend to focus on health, safety, academic services and sustainability, but added his priority right now is restructuring SGB.

“Claiming that my Board and I could accomplish 100 initiatives ourselves is ridiculous,” Mohamed said. “I know that as a campus we can.”

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