Board members introduce new committees


By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

The Student Government Board has created a new committee to focus on student health issues just in time for cold season.

The Board replaced last year’s Fundraising and Advertising Committee with a Wellness Committee to assist Board members’ wellness initiatives. In addition to covering health issues, the Wellness Committee will absorb any responsibilities related to campus safety. The Facilities and Transportation Committee, which was previously called the Safety and Transportation Committee, is shifting its concerns to facilities and transportation, not safety.

The Board voted in chairs for eight committees last night at Nordy’s place in front of about 25 people. Every board is required to have Judicial, Allocations and Elections committees according to the Board’s governing code, but conditional committee topics, including fundraising and advertising or wellness, are need-based and change between terms. Each Board determines the number of committees for its term, and the 2013 and 2014 boards formed nine committees.

The committees work to implement projects and improve the campus alongside the Board. 

The Fundraising and Advertising Committee previously managed SGB’s social media accounts and was responsible for helping to raise awareness and funds for SGB’s and student groups’ campus events.

President Mike Nites said the Board replaced the committee because the Board members could handle this role without additional help from a committee. Board member Sara Klein will handle the responsibilities of former Fundraising and Advertising Committee Chairwoman Erin Worbs.

“We felt like Erin [Worbs] did a lot of good work, but in terms of managing Twitter and Facebook and making flyers, it’s something that we can just do ourselves,” Nites said.

Worbs said she did think a Board member could handle the advertising portion of her role, but it would be hard.

Worbs created an Instagram and Pinterest account for SGB and increased the amount of followers on SGB’s various social media platforms. 

Worbs said she increased SGB’s presence on Facebook by about 400 likes and generated interest in SGB by advertising for student groups’ Facebook event pages. Worbs, who said she posted on social media at least once a day, said that she also gained about 300 followers on SGB’s twitter.

Although Worbs was responsible for helping student groups fundraise, she said only a few student groups utilized the committee’s services.

“I definitely think if the committee were to have continued, there would have to be some sort of change in how we advertise the fundraising aspect of it to student groups,” Worbs said.

But money and fundraising can’t buy health, so the Board is shaping up to tackle various wellness issues during its term. 

Nites said the Board wanted to establish a committee to focus on the increasing number of Board members’ wellness projects. Board members Ellie Tsatsos, Graeme Meyer and Klein ran on campaign platforms concerning health and safety during election season.

Meyer — who ran on re-evaluating the campus tobacco policy to increase the number of education programs about tobacco offered at Pitt and to remind people that they cannot smoke within 15 feet of campus building entrances — and Klein — who wants to partner with Pitt police to increase safety on and off campus — will be liaisons to the Wellness Committee. They will work with committee members on various wellness projects. 

Meyer said the entire Board discussed the formation of the Wellness Committee.

“We took the liaisons from Healthy U and Facilities and Transportation and formed a single committee with a single board of members,” Meyer said. 

Meyer said he was interested in the committee liaison position because it aligned with his promises during his campaign.

Jasmine Butler, Wellness Committee chairwoman, said she plans to work with Sodexo to “implement more variety” in Pitt’s dining halls and suggested an increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables offered.

Butler said her committee will also work to improve Pitt’s smaller fitness facilities, such as the gym in Brackenridge Hall. Butler said she wants to add additional equipment and fans to the underclassmen facilities.

Board member Abby Zurschmit, former Transportation and Safety Committee chairwoman, suggested the switch in focus to facilities and transportation. 

Zurschmit said the Board felt that wellness also encompassed safety issues, and the Board did not have an outlet to focus on facilities projects.

“[The Board] felt that facilities and grounds did not really have a place in any committee and, therefore, sometimes got overlooked or left behind unless there were certain projects Board members were working on,” Zurschmit said in an email.

Six out of the eight Board members ran on facilities projects this year. Board members Andrew Abboud, Brandon Benjamin, Jake Radziwon and Klein have promised to improve the University’s fitness facilities.

Ellie Kerr, the new Facilities and Transportation chairwoman, was not present at the meeting.

The interviews for committee chair positions took place over the three-day weekend and were conducted according to the Board’s new governing code. Nites, the two Board liaisons to the committee and the outgoing chair of the committee — when applicable — conducted the interviews.

Nites said the candidates were a mixture of students who were old and new to SGB.

Judicial Committee Chairwoman Audrey Winn, Governmental Relations Chairman Tony Tripp and Environmental Committee Chairwoman Kacy McGill were involved in their respective committees’ last term. 

Allocations Committee Chairwoman Nasreen Harun was sworn into her position before last night’s meeting and was also already involved with her committee.

Lauren Barney, who unsuccessfully bid for a position on the 2012 and 2013 boards, will focus her efforts on SGB as the Elections Committee Chairwoman.

Community Outreach Committee Chairwoman Diamond Gordon, Academic Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Sica, Butler and Kerr are new to SGB. 

Gordon has previous experience in volunteer and outreach programs, which she said will help her in her new position with the Community Outreach Committee.

“I have a passion for service, and I want to help get more students involved in service work,” Gordon said.

In other action:

Tsatsos and Zurschmit announced they will be releasing a survey on Pitt’s food options sometime during the next couple days.

Abboud said he met with Marilyn Ross, director of Intramurals and Recreation, and Jason Miller, assistant director of Intramurals and Recreation, about his initiative to improve fitness facilities by establishing a student liaison committee. Abboud said students who are interested in the committee should contact him.

Benjamin met with Laura Reino, a liaison to the readership program from the New York Times, about speaking on campus March 31. Benjamin also said he is looking to create a diversity initiative ad hoc committee. 

Kazour said she attended a community relations meeting with faculty, staff and department heads to discuss how to improve relationships between students and permanent Oakland residents.

Klein said she emailed City Council to set up a meeting about safety precautions and spoke with Shawn Ahearn, director of communications, to discuss advertising for student events.


CASA and VSA requested $1,672.80 to fund for a New Year’s event. The Board approved $1,649 and denied $23.80, a portion of the costs.

Pitches and Tones requested $2,634.57 to compete in the International Collegiate Acappella Competition in Ann Arbor, Miss. The Board approved the request in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

Pitt Ski and Snowboard Team requested $1,132 to cover costs for a competition. The Board approved the request in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

Korean Culture Association requested $1,500 to cover costs for a performance by a Korean-American artist. The Board approved the request in full in line with Allocations recommendation.

Yinzling requested $897.89 to bring a speaker on linguistics to campus. The Board approved the request in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

The Pittiful News requested $1,997.50 to print its paper’s monthly edition. The Board approved $1,900 and denied $97.50, a portion of the costs.

Panthers Archery requested $3,640 for a facility rental and instructor fees. The Board approved $2,800 and denied $840, a portion of the costs.

The African Student Organization requested $3,611.17 for its Wazobia Cultural Extravaganza. The Board approved $3,253.17 and denied $358, a portion of the costs.

The Asian Student Alliance requested a budget modification for $5,304.32 to bring three performers to campus. The Board approved the modification in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

The Board has allocated $28,241.63 and denied $4,369.80 this year.