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Board looks to eliminate Saturday finals with student vote

By Abbey Reighard and Dale Shoemaker / The Pitt News Staff

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A Student Government Board referendum may eliminate Saturday finals if the Board can show student interest and negotiate with adminstrators. 

Students can vote on the referenda, which went live at midnight, through the MyPitt portal until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, according to Board President Mike Nites. 

The first referendum, with enough student support, would change the semester finals schedule if University administration approves the suggested change. If the referedum passes, final exams will take place from Monday to Friday, instead of Monday to Saturday.

The Student Government Board proposed the elimination of Saturday finals to University administrators in January. Elections Chair Lauren Barney and Nites have collaborated on the project since last September.

“Your vote in affirming that you would prefer Monday to Friday is telling SGB that you want us to continue working on that project and to petition administrators to try to find some solution to eliminate Saturday finals,” Nites said at the Board’s public meeting in Nordy’s Place.

A second referedum would change SGB’s terms from a calendar year term to an academic year term. Under the current SGB Constitution, the Board’s term begins on the first day of the spring semester and ends the day before the first day of classes of the following spring semester. With the referendum, Board members’ terms would instead begin at the end of April after the spring semester closes and end at the conclusion of the following spring semester. 

If the SGB term referendum passes, Nites said that SGB’s term would align with other University bodies, including student groups, at Pitt. This would allow current Boards to more effectively communicate with other organizations, Nites said.

Nites said he expects a decent voter turnout for both referenda because students can vote for them on the same webpage.

At least 3 percent of the student body must vote on the referenda for them to pass, according to Nites. Once 3 percent of the student body votes — a simple majority, or 51 percent of the votes — will determine passage of the referenda.

In other action:

The University has extended the hours at some on-campus fitness and dining facilities as a trial period to see if students utilize them. The extended hours are based on the project of Board members Andrew Abboud and Abby Zurschmit. 

The Baierl Recreation Center, beginning Oct. 14, and the fitness facility in the William Pitt Union, beginning Oct. 11, will have extended hours. The Baierl Recreation Center will be open between 7 a.m. and midnight on weeknights, and the fitness facility in the William Pitt Union will be open between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends for a total of 16 additional open hours. 

The Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in the Schenley Cafe will now be open on weekends between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday.

“I hope students feel like they have more access to facilities, and they are getting what they came [to Pitt] for,” Abboud said. 

Allocations:

Engineers Without Borders requested $1,829.60 for registration, transportation and lodging to send four people to the Engineers Without Borders National Conference in Reston, Va. The Board approved $1,629.60 and denied $200 in line with the allocations recommendation. 

Hindu Students Council requested $2,495 for the annual Navratri Festival on Oct. 25. The Board approved $1,689 and denied $809 in line with the allocations recommendation. 

Panther Swim club requested $2,993.50 to send 49 swimmers to compete in an invitational meet at Ohio State. The Board approved $2,056.84 and denied $936.66 in line with the allocation recommendation. 

Students for Justice in Palestine requested $1,312 for honorarium and lodging for author and historian Alison Weir to come to Pitt to speak in a three-part series Nov. 11-13. The Board approved in full in line with the allocations recommendation. 

Nrityamala requested $1,560 for new costumes. The Board approved $1,497.44 and denied $62.56 in line with the allocations recommendation. 

Pittsburgh Fencing Association requested $1,210.92 for 24 fencers to compete in a tournament in Swarthmore, Pa. The Board approved $1,014.44 and denied $196.48 in line with the allocation recommendation.

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Board looks to eliminate Saturday finals with student vote