Editorial: SGB: Overcoming resignations will require transparency, proactive board

As summer vacation winds down and students look forward to a fresh lineup of classes, Pitt’s Student Government Board faces its own set of new beginnings, but perhaps not with the same amount of enthusiasm.

On Thursday, SGB announced the resignations of Board member Ryan Orr, Allocations Committee member Michele Buono and Academic Affairs chair Robert Sica.

Orr, who filled one of the two vacant seats after former Board members Ellie Tsatsos and Brandon Benjamin resigned earlier this year, is the fourth member to step down during the 2014 term. His resignation perpetuates the cycle of inconsistency and turnover that has plagued this particular Board. Moreover, the turnover  — unprecedented in recent years — inevitably inhibits the ample completion of members’ projects designed to benefit the student body.

But the 2014 Board’s final semester doesn’t have to be an ineffective one. In fact, the lessons to be learned from this term’s chain of resignations set the remaining members up to leave a lasting mark on the future of SGB. The essential question — perhaps an obvious one — the Board should answer: How can the Board reignite the student body’s interest in SGB? 

Only 10 students ran for SGB in the 2013 election, and almost a third of the original members have since resigned. SGB is clearly failing to not only garner student enthusiasm, but also failing to maintain it among its members. 

The problem is rooted in a lack of transparency. At the time of publication, SGB’s official website lists contact information for Tsatsos and Benjamin, even though both resigned last March. And although Orr officially resigned on July 1, SGB waited until Aug. 21 to publicly announce the news.

These issues can be repaired. SGB should update its website to reflect its current composition, utilize social media when important events — like resignations — occur and issue timely press releases. Such changes are simple, reasonable steps SGB can take to enhance its transparency.

But there still remains the long-term issue of maintaining openness and being met with trust and optimism from the student body. 

When Tsatsos resigned in March, she said she thought SGB was an organization that would help her positively affect the student body. But after joining, she “realized the amount of politics that come with the job.”

The internal workings and processes of SGB should be clear to those running for positions on the Board. With an upcoming election, the Board must maintain consistency and restore the enthusiasm to attract others to run for SGB. By reaching out to student groups, current Board members can speak of their positive experiences with SGB, what they were able to achieve during their time in office and how they were able to achieve them. 

A proactive approach will leave the Board with a positive legacy and inspire future candidates to run with a motivation that will hopefully last into their term simply because they will know what to expect — at least idealistically speaking.

Just because four members of this Board have resigned since the beginning of the 2014 term does not mean their last semester has to be an unproductive one. It’s up to the current members and how they carry out their remaining months.

Hopefully, they will be successful and we will see a high turnout for November’s election — reflected by enthusiastic candidates and an optimistic student body.