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SGB votes against plastic bags

The+Student+Government+Board+discussed+eliminating+plastic+bags+on+campus+at+Tuesday+night%27s+meeting.
The Student Government Board discussed eliminating plastic bags on campus at Tuesday night's meeting.

The Student Government Board discussed eliminating plastic bags on campus at Tuesday night's meeting.

The Student Government Board discussed eliminating plastic bags on campus at Tuesday night's meeting.

By Mark Pesto and Dale Shoemaker / The Pitt News Staff

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Students can no longer receive free plastic bags from campus dining services, including Market Central’s Quick Zone, per a new Student Government Board resolution passed Tuesday.

SGB voted unanimously at last evening’s meeting to approve a resolution called the “BYO[Bag] Initiative Restructure,” which updates a resolution passed last year.

Under the new resolution, Sodexo and SGB are eliminating the previous quota of 15 free plastic bags per semester for students. Instead, Sodexo will charge a 25-cent fee per plastic bag after the add/drop period of each semester. The initiative will go into effect Sept. 14, after the add/drop period ends.

“It’s an easily avoidable fee,” Nick Goodfellow, sustainability coordinator for Pitt Dining, said. “All you have to do is bring your own bag.”

Sodexo will also begin selling reusable grocery bags for $6 each at all campus dining facilities. The Office of PittServes and the Student Office of Sustainability have teamed up with Sodexo to purchase and sell these bags.

PittServes and the Student Office of Sustainability will donate 50 percent of all money made from the new plastic-bag fee and from selling the reusable bags to the Pitt Green Fund Advisory to fund future sustainability projects, potentially including reusable drink containers.

SGB first introduced this resolution at its Sept. 1, meeting and tabled it for one week for public review and to give themselves time to discuss the resolution before voting.

Alongside SGB, Sodexo, Pitt Green Fund Advisory Board, Free the Planet and Students for Sustainability co-sponsored the resolution.

Hoping to reduce plastic bag usage on campus, the resolution called the previous practice ineffective at reducing plastic bag waste because it was “ungovernable,” meaning neither SGB nor Sodexo could monitor how many plastic bags it gave to students.

“In our old system, we were only able to maintain a mass quota for all students,” Goodfellow said. “It was causing conflicts at the cash registers, and that’s the last thing we want.”

Goodfellow expects the transition to go smoothly.

“Everyone’s been supportive,” he said.

In other news, Allocations Chair Nick Reslink introduced a bill that would allow the Allocations Committee to choose an alternate member who would automatically fill any vacancies which occur during the school year. A Nominating Task Force would select this alternate member in the spring along with the committee’s regular members, but the alternate would not serve in any official capacity unless a vacancy occurred.

The bill is not directly related to the committee currently having four open seats, Reslink said, but it will allow the committee to have an official alternate policy in place. The person chosen for the alternate position will apply with the other committee members. Because the alternate may hold a committee seat, Reslink said, the alternate must meet the standards of the other members.

Reslink said the alternate will be chosen at the same time as the other committee members, pending the bill’s passage.

As it is now, filling vacancies on the Allocations Committee takes weeks, Reslink said, adding that passing this bill will cut that time down to mere days.

SGB tabled the bill until next week’s meeting and posted it on their website for the public to review.

The Allocations Committee is currently trying to fill four vacancies, two of which are reserved for freshmen. Applications for the positions are posted on SGB’s website. The application deadline is Sept. 17, at 5 p.m.

Despite the vacancies, Reslink said the Committee’s work hasn’t been hampered.

“Because the Committee is so large and diverse, we are able to handle the workload in the interim,” Reslink said in an email Tuesday night. “While we eagerly anticipate having 13 members again, we are well-equipped to do the job in the short run with nine.”

Allocations:

Active Minds requested $2,000 to send four officers to a national conference at the University of California, Irvine. SGB approved this request in full.

Global Brigades requested $1,977.90 to attend a national conference at Marquette University. SGB approved this request in full.

Biomedical Engineering Society requested $2,556 to attend an annual meeting in Tampa, Florida. SGB approved $1,934 and rejected $622.

Aero Society of Automotive Engineers requested $4,917.81 for materials to build a miniature airplane. SGB approved $4,917.79 and rejected 2 cents because of a math error.

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SGB votes against plastic bags