Nicholas Hufnagel to fill empty Board position


The Student Government Board interviewed, selected and announced Nicholas Hufnagel as its new Board member last night.

The Board selected Hufnagel, a junior majoring in French and urban studies, from a pool of 24 applicants, who underwent public interviews Tuesday night in Nordy’s Place. 

“I felt like this was a chance to get more involved on campus because I’m going to be a senior,” Hufnagel said. 

Board President Mike Nites said 34 students applied for the position since he posted applications last Thursday night. 

The Board divided the interview into two rounds and questioned each applicant for fifteen minutes.

The Board interviewed the applicants in a two round process, with the first round lasting until 9:50 p.m. Nites interviewed any applicants who were not available to attend the session over speakerphone. 

Each of the six present Board members asked the applicant a question, including inquiries about each applicant’s schedule and project ideas:

Board member Sara Klein asked applicants to tell the Board about themselves in about 30 seconds or less.

Board member Graeme Meyer asked applicants about projects they intend to work on if chosen for the position.

Board member Ellie Tsatsos asked applicants why they did not run for Student Government last semester and what made them decide to apply for the open position. 

Board member Abby Zurschmit focused on logistics, asking applicants if they had ever attended a Student Government Board public meeting before and if applicants would be available Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. and Friday afternoons to fit the new Board member’s schedule. Nites added that the Board could reschedule if necessary.

Nites asked applicants to name what things they would look for if a student group asked for allocations to fund a cultural event on campus. 

Board members Mona Kazour and Andrew Abboud asked applicants to name three of the nine Student Government Committees. 

Board member Brandon Benjamin had an unexcused absence.   

After Board members finished the first round of interviews, the Board broke for private deliberations, which lasted for about 45 minutes. 

The Board forgot to call one of the applicants — Elizabeth Smolinski, a sophomore majoring in marketing — and had to stop deliberations to interview Smolinski before returning to deliberations for about another two minutes.

After private deliberations, Board members announced four applicants they chose to consider in a second round of interviews: Nicholas Hufnagel, Andrew Stefanick, Meghan Murphy and Benjamin West.

The four remaining applicants were then notified by the Board members and returned for a second round of interviews that lasted for about an hour.

The Board members asked each applicant an additional 15 minutes of questions, including:

Klein asked applicants how well they collaborate with others.

Meyer asked applicants how they would describe the concept of shared responsibility when it comes to allocations between student groups and the Board.

Tsatsos asked candidates what some of their other major commitments would be outside of SGB.

Zurschmit asked candidates to describe what type of leader they are.

Nites asked candidates how they would increase transparency and solve any disconnect that is happening between the Board and the student body.

Kazour asked candidates to describe a time when they had to accomplish a task and were not given specific directions or guidance while completing that task.

Abboud asked candidates what impression they want to leave on the student body when their term as a Board member ends.

Hufnagel said he wants to improve student health on campus by advertising healthy options in dining halls. 

Hufnagel works in the Office of Admissions, where he has a been working on a campaign to use social media. He is also a Pitt Pathfinder, a brother of Phi Delta Theta and is in the Airforce ROTC. 

“I’m a very fair leader,” Hufnagel said. “I always try to see other peoples’ perspectives.”

Hufnagel fills the vacant position left by Jake Radziwon, who resigned from the Board on Thursday night, and Nites said the Board was “extremely excited about some of the projects [Hufnagel] discussed with [them] in his interview.”

“We really liked how he laid out his plan, and put on the table in what he wanted to accomplish,” Nites said. 

Hufnagel said he wants to take the chance to become more involved on campus. 

“Because I’m going to be a senior, I want to leave a lasting impact on campus,” Hufnagel said. 

Nites said that one of the “cool things” Hufnagel pitched in his interview was bringing TED talks, or lectures with “ideas worth spreading,” to campus, something that Penn State has hosted but Pitt has not.

“That was a sort of new and refreshing idea that we hadn’t heard before,” Nites said. 


Club Gymnastics requested $2,000 to pay for gym facility fees for practices. The Board approved $750 and denied $1,250 in line with the allocations recommendation because part of the cost was for deficit spending, which the Board cannot fund.

Resident Student Association requested a budget modification in the amount of $1,348.50 to switch funds from equipment rental for their Spring Carnival to fund a grill rental. The Board approved $1,082.25 and denied $266.25, a portion of the cost. 

Pitt Ski and Snowboard Team requested $5,452.80 to send six people to compete in a nationals competition in Lake Placid, NY. The Board approve $2,100.80 and denied $3,352, a portion of the cost.

Pittsburgh Fencing Association requested $1,953.08 to compete in the FCC championships at the University of Georgia. The Board approved the request in full in line with the allocations recommendations.