New SGB members receive wisdom at inauguration

New SGB members receive wisdom at inauguration

By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg offered warm wishes to the incoming Student Government Board members, joking about another Pitt organization’s recent success, at Thursday’s inauguration.

“It would be hard to find a better way to launch a new year here at Pitt than gathering to inaugurate our new Student Government Board,” Nordenberg said. “It is a Board that I should note is undefeated in ACC basketball games.”

Roughly 40 people attended the ceremony in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge. The ceremony began with a performance of the Alma Mater by the Pitt Men’s Glee Club and introductions from former Elections Committee Chairman Aaron Gish. Nordenberg and former SGB President Gordon Louderback addressed the crowd before Louderback officially passed on his position to new Board President Mike Nites.

Nites swore in Board members Andrew Abboud, Brandon Benjamin, Mona Kazour, Sara Klein, Graeme Meyer, Jake Radziwon, Ellie Tsatsos and Abigail Zurschmidt before delivering his inaugural address.

In his introduction, Gish commented on the new Board members’ “clean” campaigns, referring to the zero infractions filed by candidates during the 2013 election season.

Gish said the clean campaigns were a “reflection on the integrity of the candidates and values that have been instilled and encouraged in them by [Pitt].”

Nordenberg thanked the outgoing Board, and quoted a passage from last year’s accreditation report from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The Middle States review acknowledged Pitt’s accomplishments in research and the sense of pride among the University community.

“There seems to be an ethos of appreciation that evokes humility in those of us who come to observe it,” Nordenberg quoted from the report.

Nordenberg said SGB works to evoke this humility and culture and wished the 2014 Board well.

Nordenberg said he was confident that the Board will work to “advance an agenda that, in the words of the Pitt Promise, will work to leave this University a better place for those who follow.”

“I hope that 2014 will be an equally rewarding and productive year for [SGB],” he added.

As he bid farewell to Pitt’s student government, Louderback offered the new Board advice and thanked those who had helped him along the way.

“If there is one thing that I wish someone would have told me two years ago, it would be to utilize the people and tools around you,” Louderback said.

Louderback recommended the new Board pay particular attention to Pitt’s student body.

“You’d be surprised about the ideas they have,” he said.

Louderback recounted some of the successes of the 2013 Board, including the overhaul of SGB’s bylaws, the installation of bike service stations on campus, assistance in the adoption of the Worker Rights Consortium by Pitt and the extension of Hillman Library’s operating hours.

Louderback said his involvement in SGB helped him develop as a person. Before passing on his responsibilities, Louderback said that Nites, who served as a member of the 2013 Board, was “a very knowledgeable guy.”

After Nites recited his pledge to student government and swore in the eight board members, he faced the audience and imparted a bit of honesty.

“Three years ago, when I went into the Allocations Committee, I don’t think I ever dreamed my SGB career would last this long,” Nites said.

Nites said the Board members’ unity will determine their overall success, and called them to be “stronger than the steel and stone that has held up our Cathedral for 70-plus years.”

“There is no more Forward, no more Gold, Three Rivers or independent candidates,” he said, referring to the new members’ slate names during election season. “Our success will be measured by the extent of which we work together.”

Nites reminded the Board members of their role in the student body.

“We should remember that the student body is trusting us to represent them, and we will not let them down,” he said.

Gish closed the ceremony and congratulated SGB for its success over the past four years, but he also reminded them of the work to come.

“Make no mistake, there are many improvements that must still be made, particularly given the voter turnout this year,” Gish said.

Turnout for last year’s SGB election saw a decrease of about 54 percent from the previous election’s numbers.

Only 2,520 students — 13.7 percent of Pitt’s non-College of General Studies undergraduates — voted in the 2013 election, down from 2012’s turnout of about 30 percent.

“There must be an active effort to increase student trust and knowledge of what SGB does and what it stands for,” Gish said.