Board provides midterm updates


By Abbey Reighard / Staff Writer

Student Government Board members updated the president on their initiatives, ranging from greener lifestyles to improving the quality of food served on campus. 

Board President Mike Nites reported that he spent Monday and Tuesday conducting one-on-one meetings with each Board member to discuss success of their projects to an audience of about 15 people at the Board’s weekly public meeting at Nordy’s Place in the William Pitt Union on Tuesday night.

Nites said Gordon Louderback, last year’s Board president, introduced project checkpoints through which Board members gave weekly updates of their project progress at public Board meetings. 

Nites said his one-on-one meetings take Louderback’s weekly checkpoints, which the current Board still reports at SGB meetings every week, “one step further” because Nites can address any individual challenges Board members might be facing with their projects. 

“The Board members have my full attention,” Nites said. “It’s an opportunity for me to check where they are all at with their projects.”

Nites discussed with each Board member what projects they have been working on this semester and which projects they are struggling to move forward with. 

Mona Kazour

Board member Mona Kazour has introduced two environmental initiatives that the Board has supported in the last month. The initiatives included BYO(Bag), a program which will decrease the amount of plastic bags used on campus, and the Real Food Challenge, which will increase the amount of healthy, environmentally friendly food on campus.

Kazour said she has also been revising the Student Guide to Sustainability, a handbook that guides students to behave in environmentally conscious ways, to make the guide shorter and easier to for students to follow.

Kazour said she is also now responsible for verifying service hours on NobleHours, the new program within PittServes, an office under Student Affair’s jurisdiction that helps to connect students and student groups with service projects, which Kazour helped to implement.

NobleHours, which is available on the PittServes website, is a database through which students and student groups can record and track their service hours.

Kazour is also responsible for seeking out and posting local charity events in which students can participate. She said NobleHours will serve as a “hub for service” and help students to make “connections to the community and give back to where [they] live and learn.”

Kazour said she has contacted members of the Neuroscience Club about getting a self-service printer installed in either Langley Hall or Clapp Hall. She spoke to Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey about the printer project and expects a decision about the printer’s location to occur by the end of the semester. 

Abby Zurschmit

Board member Abby Zurschmit said she has been working on an initiative to make the William Pitt Union more student-friendly, specifically when it comes to dining. 

Zurschmit offered a dining survey to students on the Student Government Board website to evaluate how often students eat on campus and to what degree campus dining options meet students’ expectations.

Zurschmit hopes to use the survey results, along with the information collected from other ACC schools, to present to administrators and address any concerns, such as hours of operation and students’ food allergies, that students may have with campus dining. 

The survey asks questions such as how often students frequent dining halls and how often students would eat on-campus if there were more campus dining options on weekends. 

Zurschmit said she has also been researching the dining options and on-campus dining hours of operation all schools within the ACC. 

Zurschmit said about 250 students have already completed the survey, and she’s seeking about 500 respondents.

Graeme Meyer

Board member Meyer has been working on a Tobacco Free Campus initiative.

Meyer created a survey to address the amount of students who use tobacco products, what products they are using and how often students are using tobacco products. 

Meyer said the survey is pending final approval from Humphrey. Once Humphrey approves the survey, campus groups Healthy U and Panther Wellness will distribute the survey at the Student Health Center. 

Meyer also proposed the Crisis Relief Fund pilot program which the Board passed earlier this month.

Ellie Tsatsos 

Board member Tsatsos has been working to create more student-friendly space in the Schenley Quadrangle by adding more benches and places for students to sit.  

Tsatsos said she recently submitted a powerpoint proposal, which included a version of the Quad with benches along the walkways surrounding the parking lot, as well as with benches and a grassy area covering the parking spaces, to Humphrey.

Tsatsos said progress with the project has been slow.

“Because of long chains of communication with high authority people, it takes a while to get responses,” she said. 

Tsatsos said she wants Humphrey to approve the proposal this semester so students can use benches in the quad this summer.

Tsatsos said the addition of grassy areas to the Quad will be a “huge, expensive task” that might not be complete by the end of Tsatsos’ term next year.

“I want to get the conversation [about the initiative] rolling so that someone else can come in and continue pushing for completion,” Tsatsos said. 

Tsatsos will also work with Zurschmit on her initiative to strengthen campus dining facilities. After they collect data from the dining surveys, the Board members will create proposals to submit to Sodexo.

Sara Klein

Board member Klein has been working to increase campus safety awareness, specifically in areas of self-defense. 

Klein said she is meeting with Guy Johnson, Pitt Police’s community relations officer, this week to discuss ways to inform students about campus safety and the different place students can go if they need help.

“The Pitt police already does a great job of making sure that we are all safe, but the students also need to know the services that are offered through the University,” Klein said. 

Klein said she plans to work with the Pitt Police to hold self defense seminars for students. 

She said that she is also working on a Student Voice Initiative to involve the student body in SGB projects. The program, she said, would allow students to submit their ideas, either on a new website designated for the program or on social media sites, for future SGB projects.

“There are only eight Board members, and we can’t possibly know everything that needs to be looked at or fixed on campus,” Klein said. “Hopefully this initiative will improve that and increase the amount of projects that SGB can get done in the future.” 

Former Board President Gordon Louderback completed an initiative that established a campus project submission form shortly into his tenure on the 2013 Board. The form was available on the SGB website and Facebook page and allowed students to submit suggestions for campus improvement projects.

While the form is still available through the Board’s Facebook page, it is no longer accessible on the Board’s recently updated website.

Andrew Abboud 

Board member Abboud has been working to increase and improve on-campus study spaces for students.

Abboud said he has been working closely with board member Tsatsos on the study space initiative and also said that any construction of study spaces would probably occur this summer. 

Abboud said that he is looking to add more study spaces in upper campus and to also check current study spaces to make sure that they are as efficient as they can be for students. 

Abboud also created a recreational survey that will question students about possible improvements in recreational facilities on campus. He said the survey will be available on social media sites.Jake Radziwon

Board member Radziwon said he is working to move the sales of tickets for buses home online. 

Radziwon said he has been looking into current online tickets sales, like basketball and football ticket sales, to determine which format would work best for bus ticket sales. 

Brandon Benjamin

Board member Benjamin received an unexcused absence at Tuesday night’s meeting.  

Benjamin said at previous meetings that he had considered installing a fixture on campus which students groups could use to paint and advertise group events. 

Benjamin has also worked with readership program liaisons from the New York Times to bring a speaker to campus March 31. 

In other action:

Nites, along with Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, will speak at the Pitt Day in Harrisburg Student Briefing at 5 p.m. in the Connolly Ballroom in Alumni Hall.

Nites said Board members and staff from the Office of Alumni Affairs will advise students how to ask questions they will address to legislatures when they go to Harrisburg on March 13. 

The Board will be sending four members, who are to be determined, to Pitt Day in Harrisburg.

Allocations Committee Chairwoman Nasreen Harun announced that there will be a Allocations 101 Session this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in room 540 of the William Pitt Union.


Pitt Spanish Club requested $1,800 for an instructor to come to Pitt to teach students Latin dances. The Board approved $450 and denied $1,350.

Pitt Rugby Football Club requested $1,421.74 for a tournament in Washington, D.C. The Board approved the request in full.

Tau Beta Sigma requested $1,928.80 to attend a convention at the University of Connecticut. The Board approved $554.60 and denied $1,374.20 in line with the allocations recommendation. 

Panther Wrestling Club requested $1,563.26 to compete in wrestling conferences. The Board approved the request in full in line with the allocations recommendation.

Reformed University Fellowship requested $970 to send eight people on a missions trip to Memphis, Tenn. The Board denied the request in full in line with the allocations recommendation because it competes with Pitt Alternative Spring Break program, which is also held in Tennessee. 

Steel City Bhangra requested $2,117.76 to attend a competition in Richmond, Va. The Board approved the request in full in line with the allocations recommendation. 

Kappa Kappa Psi requested $1,038.76 to attend a convention at Yukon College. The Board approved $938.76 and denied $100 in line with the allocations recommendation.

PantheRaas requested $1,596.80 to attend a competition in Baltimore. The Board approved $1,547.60 and denied $49.20 in line with the allocations recommendation.

The Board has allocated $110, 253.17 this year.