Graeme Meyer wins SGB presidential election

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Graeme Meyer wins SGB presidential election

By Abbey Reighard, Danielle Fox, Emily Ahlin and Cristina Holtzer / The Pitt News Staff

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Talk about a drum roll. 

Pitt’s African Music and Dance Ensemble heightened the drama last night in Nordy’s Place before Elections Committee Chair Lauren Barney announced the results of the 2015 Student Government Board election. 

Pitt students elected Graeme Meyer as the new Student Government Board president and eight new Board members to the 2015 Student Government Board after the vote on Tuesday.. Voters elected the entire 87’s slate and select members from other slates.

The new Board will take office in January and serve until the end of the spring 2016 semester. The current Board passed a referendum in early October to change the SGB term from a calendar year to an academic year, so the newly elected Board will serve for a year and a half to transition between the two term lengths.

Barney said 4,127 students voted, compared to 2,520 students the previous year —  a 63.7 percent increase in voter turnout. About 24 percent of Pitt’s non-College of General Studies undergraduates voted. 

Barney said 48 percent of voters selected Meyer to be the new president.

Meyer said he was “ecstatic” after hearing the results of the race, read by Barney.

“At about 2 p.m. today, I realized the number of students who came out to help,” Meyer said. “I’m just so grateful for the amount of support from the students.” 

Each non-College of General Studies undergraduate student could cast votes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for up to three Board members and one president, as well as vote “yes” or “no” on two referenda to alter the SGB Constitution.

The first referendum would make the first chairperson, or president pro tempore, the vice president of the Board. The second referendum would create a student assembly as a “lower legislative body” to SGB. Students voted to pass both referenda.

The SGB Elections Committee advertised the election through Campus Connects and a video about the election on the screens throughout campus, as well as Meet the Candidate events in the dining halls. 

Barney credited the Elections Committee for the increase in turnout as well as the “fierce” presidential contest.

Barney said her committee polled “all day” in Towers, the Perch and Market Central, and had voting guides and computers for students to use. 

Barney, who the Board dismissed and then reinstated as elections chair, said the events put the election “in the spotlight.”

“It brought more cognizance that the election was going on in the first place,” Barney said. 

Nasreen Harun, current allocations chair, received the most votes as a Board member candidate and will serve as vice president. As vice president, Harun would replace Meyer if he could no longer fulfill his responsibilities.

Harun, who received loud cheers from the audience upon the announcement of her vice presidency, despite Barney’s request to hold applause until the end of the announcements, said she’s very prepared for the long term length.

“I’ve already done more than that,” Harun said, “and my passion for SGB hasn’t fizzled out at all.” 

The 2015 Board members, listed in the order of highest number of votes received are Harun, Everett Green, Meghan Murphy, Natalie Dall, Matt Sykes, Lia Petrose, Jacky Chen and Jack Heidecker.

Jade Diamond, who ran independently, and Jessica Snyder, who ran with the Pitt United slate, were not elected to the Board. Snyder said she would like to see more communication between the new Board and the student body and has no plans to run again.

Because Harun, Green and Murphy received the largest shares of total votes, they will serve as representatives to the University Senate Council.

Meyer said the first thing he wants to do as president is help the “new Board come together.” 

Presidential candidates Wasi Mohamed and Andrew Stefanick expressed disappointment with their losses to Meyer, and both agreed that they will not run again in the future.

Stefanick said that he was “glad,” and did not have any regrets about his campaign.

Mohamed said the loss was “upsetting,” but he also expressed relief. Because Mohamed is a senior, he said he has no plans to run again. 

“I can graduate in the spring,” Mohamed said. 

Mohamed was also pleased with his campaign, saying that the only thing that could’ve improved it was “more time.”

Harun said she is very optimistic about results.

“We’ve all really come in with the idea that we really do have the power to do something,” Harun said. “As long as the passion is there, the motivation will be.”

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