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SGB to offer lawyer

By Mark Pesto and Dale Shoemaker / The Pitt News Staff

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Away from home and combatting a nefarious landlord, students might feel like they are up against the world alone. Little did they know, Pitt Student Government Board has a not-quite-secret weapon.

For several years now, SGB’s lawyer Mark Galzerano has been available to students free of charge as a formal way for students to handle landlord disputes. To make students more aware of the free legal help, Board member Everett Green and Governmental Relations Chair Patrick Corelli said at its first public meeting Tuesday night that SGB will now advertise Galzerano’s services through campus television boards, WPTS and UPTV.

To schedule a meeting with Galzerano, Green said students must go to SGB’s office and fill out a form. Galzerano will then meet with students on Fridays for individual, 20-minute legal consultations.

If students require further advice or consultation, they can schedule additional meetings with Galzerano at his private office. The consultations are free, but students have to pay for Galzerano’s additional services. Students can turn to Galzerano for legal advice on any subject, but Green said most students come to discuss landlord complaints.

Green said he did not know how many students met with Galzerano last year.

For students who have more general complaints about their residences in South Oakland, Green said they can talk to him and Corelli. The pair will take the concerns to Oakwatch meetings, where locals discuss how to best enforce safety, sanitation and zoning codes in Oakland.

“[In Oakland] it’s really a three-way street, with landlords, students and permanent residents,” Corelli said. “Up until last year, there really weren’t that many students on Oakwatch, which is a problem because when you don’t have a seat at the table, you get served for dinner,” Corelli said.

Green said he and Corelli have attended public Oakwatch meetings since the spring semester.

About 75 students attended the board’s first meeting this fall at Nordy’s Place. The meeting was also the first under SGB’s new leader Nasreen Harun, who replaced Graeme Meyer as president after he resigned in May.

In other business, Environmental Committee Chair Joseph Streets introduced a resolution to remove plastic bags from Pitt’s campus and replace them with reusable bags.

If SGB adopts the resolution, Pitt and Sodexo, which co-sponsored the resolution, will require students to pay 25 cents for each plastic bag at all campus dining locations after the add/drop period.

Sodexo, which has partnered with PittServes and the Student Office of Sustainability, would purchase and sell reusable bags for $6 each at Pitt’s dining locations. Sodexo will then donate 50 percent of its profits from selling the bags to the Pitt Green Fund Advisory Board.

Right now, each student gets 15 free plastic bags per semester, but has to pay for every bag over that limit.

SGB tabled the resolution for one week, during which it will be posted on the SGB website for public review. They will officially vote on it next week.

Student environmental groups will table outside Quick Zone locations this week, giving away the old reusable bags Sodexo used to sell and selling newer, sturdier reusable bags.

Streets and Goodfellow said they’re confident the resolution will pass, since it’s simply an update to current policy.

As it was the first meeting of the fall semester, there were no allocations requests to report.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed Pat Corelli as SGB’s Community Outreach Chair. Corelli is SGB’s Governmental Relations Chair. This story has been updated to reflect these changes. 

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SGB to offer lawyer