SGB passes new travel grant rules

Looking to get away and get scholarly in April?

Student Government Board voted Tuesday to revise its travel grant program to allow for undergraduate researchers to receive grants regardless of their conference date.

The unanimous vote will limit the number of travel grants, which SGB accepts on a rolling basis, awarded per conference to three students.

SGB’s Undergraduate Conference Fund, which it established last March, contains $5,000 each semester for 20 students to attend conferences. Before Tuesday, 20 students could all receive grants to go to the same conference.

Board member Lia Petrose introduced a bill outlining the changes at last week’s meeting. Petrose said she wrote the bill to encourage students to attend conferences later in the year and allow SGB to evenly distribute the grants.

“That isn’t the way we want it to be, because a lot of research conferences happen throughout the year,” Petrose said. According to Petrose, the old system is not fair for students who want to attend conferences later in the year because they may not even receive an invitation until the fund is empty.

Petrose, who has done research at Pitt since her first year, said undergraduate researchers get the most out of attending a conference since they typically cannot attend, unlike more senior researchers.

“In a lot of labs, undergrads are the bottom of the totem pole,” Petrose said. “Oftentimes departments don’t have a ton of money to send people to conferences, so they will send the researchers in charge.”

Samuel Wormer, a junior neuroscience and chemistry major, said in an email that SGB’s new funding regulations will bring balance to the travel grant program. Wormer has worked on research involving emotion and motivation.

“I couldn’t think of any more fair way to award the grants unless they had more money to award,” Wormer said.

In other action, SGB’s environmental committee has selected Courteney Avon as the new student coordinator for the Student Office of Sustainability. PittServes will pay Avon to help the office with administrative duties, finding space for student groups and working on the office’s budget.

The committee received 10 applications and interviewed seven candidates. Avon has worked as an RA for the One Pitt, One Planet Living and Learning Community.

Joe Streets, chair of the environmental committee, said she was a good fit for the office because of her “experience in both administrative work and with environmental issues.”

Petrose announced at the meeting that SGB will host a screening of Poverty Inc., a documentary about international aid, Friday at the Frick Fine Arts Building.

Petrose collaborated with Global Brigades, Pitt Nourish International and the University Center for International Studies to bring the film to Pitt and host a question and answer session with its director, Mark Weber.

“A lot of things people here at Pitt are involved in have a global impact,” Petrose said. “We thought this movie would present an interesting situation to students that care about that field of work.”


Nrityamala requested $3,500 for a competition at the University of California, Berkeley. The Board approved the request in full.

Panther Swim Club requested $1,351.91 for a swim meet at Penn State. The Board approved the request in full.

Pitt Ultimate requested $3,395.36 for a tournament. The Board approved the request in full.

Pitt Rugby Football Club requested $3,609.80 for a tournament. The Board approved $480 and denied $3,129.80.

Pitt Women’s Volleyball Club requested $2,739. The Board approved $1,299 and denied $1,440.

Mastana Fusion Dance Club requested $1,748.43 for a competition. The Board approved $1,748.42 and denied 1 cent.

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