SGB candidates share campaign platforms

By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

This year’s candidates for Student Government Board are almost all going to be winners. 

With 10 candidates running for eight Board positions and one candidate running for the presidency, only two candidates will be unsuccessful on election day, Nov. 21. There were originally eight candidates in the running, but Aaron Gish, Elections Committee chairman, extended the deadline to apply for candidacy to give voters more options.

The original deadline was set for Oct. 23 and extended to Nov. 2. Two candidates for Board positions entered the race during this time, but Mike Nites, the only candidate running for president, remains uncontested.

The SGB Elections Code includes provisions for candidates to apply after the deadline up until one week before the election. Late candidates must double the 200-signature petition required by prospective candidates in the first round of applications. Such individuals must also write a statement of less than 500 words explaining their reason for applying late.

To apply late for the presidency, candidates must turn in a petition with 500 signatures and write the same statement that is required of late-submitted Board candidate applications.

The Slates:

Pitt Gold: Ron Reha, Ellie Tsatsos and Graeme Meyer

Reha, a junior studying philosophy and English literature, is the chief general editor for the Pitt Undergraduate Economic Journal and is a student ambassador in Pitt’s Global Studies Center. 

Reha said he wants to make Pitt’s transportation services more effective and student-friendly, create a more transparent student government and allocations process and finish the Board’s work to establish an Office of Sustainability.

He has spoken with representatives from Panther Central and Jim Earle, assistant vice chancellor for business, to improve the transportation system. Reha also said he will establish more transparency by requiring Board members to provide bi-monthly reports and monthly newsletters to the student body.

According to Reha, he is working with current Board member Sarah Winston and Isaac Freedman, coordinator of the Green Fund Advisory Board, to push Pitt to establish the Office of Sustainability.

Tsatsos, a junior studying biology and chemistry, is a Pitt Pathfinder, a tutor on campus and a teaching assistant. 

She wants to make the Schenley Quad more student-friendly and environmentally friendly, to revise the overnight guest policy and to work with dining services to provide more dining dollar options on weekends and late at night, in addition to providing more options for students with specific dietary restrictions.

Tsatsos said she has begun to work with the Green Fund Advisory Board to discuss ideas to improve Schenley Quad. She wants to work with the Office of Student Affairs to better advertise the rules of the overnight guest policy but also to make improvements to the policy.

She said she has attended the Food Committee meetings with current Board members and representatives from Sodexo and will work to expand on these meetings.

Meyer, a sophomore studying engineering and economic statistics, is a member of the board of Colleges Against Cancer, the sponsorship chair for the Pitt Dance Marathon Board, a founding father of Phi Delta Epsilon fraternity, a brother of Theta Tau fraternity and a founding father of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Meyer promises to improve services for victims of violent crime and sexual assault, to work with the Healthy U program and Pitt’s Student Health Services to re-evalute the campus tobacco policy and to continue efforts to consolidate resources and provide training for student organizations.

He said that when a student is assaulted off campus, there is no system that automatically reports crimes addressed by Pittsburgh city police to the University or the Counseling Center. He said he has been in contact with members of the Pitt Police Department.

Meyer said he is working with Marian Vanek, director of Student Health Services, to increase the number of education programs about tobacco offered at Pitt and to post signs reminding people on campus that they cannot smoke within 15 feet of an entrance.

Three Rivers: Mona Kazour, Andrew Abboud and Abby Zurschmit

Kazour, a junior studying applied developmental psychology, is the current chair of SGB’s Transportation and Safety Committee, a first year mentor, a brother of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and the co-director of the Student Civic Engagement Council.

She promises to increase cultural connection at Pitt by establishing a practice that would celebrate a different culture each month, to establish Allocations Committee workshops to increase understanding and to strengthen the bond between students and long-term residents of Oakland.

Kazour said her current service experience will help her to implement plans for cultural connection and to strengthen the relationship between students and area residents. She said workshops designed to educate student groups about the allocations process would help students understand the reasons behind allocations to various student groups. Kazour said she wants to hold community service events for students and residents.

Abboud, a junior studying biological science and religious studies, is a Pitt Pathfinder, a student ambassador to the honors college and vice chairman to the Student Advisory Board of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

Abboud said he will work with the University to lower textbook costs and to improve athletic services on campus by establishing student liaison groups for The Book Center and the Athletics Department and to convert underused space in North Oakland and upper campus into study spaces.

He has spoken with Debra Fyock, manager of the University Store on Fifth, to discuss what she thinks would reduce textbook costs. Abboud also said he has spoken with Marilyn Ross, director of the Intramurals and Recreation division of the Office of Student Affairs, and Jason Miller, assistant director of Intramurals and Recreation, about improving student access to athletic facilities.

Abboud has suggested forming student liaison groups to address issues that students have with the University Store and fitness facilities, such as extending facility hours. According to Abboud, this project is feasible because it would not cost substantial expenses to establish the liaison committees.

Abboud is working with building managers through the facility management programs to identify spaces that could be converted.

Zurschmit, a junior studying communications, is the SGB Transportation and Safety Committee chairwoman, a member of the SGB Constitutional Review Committee and a sister of Theta Phi Alpha sorority.

She said she hopes to make a SafeRider app for smartphones, establish a ride-share system for all Pitt students and increase student access to the William Pitt Union.

Zurschmit is speaking with Kevin Sheehy, director of Transportation and Parking Services, and representatives from different companies to develop a SafeRider app for smartphones. Zurschmit is also speaking with Sheehy to develop an online platform that will enable Pitt students to post information about rides to travel home or to the airport for holiday breaks.

Zurschmit also said she is working with representatives from the William Pitt Union to discuss options.

Forward: Mike Nites, Sara Klein and Brandon Benjamin

Nites is a senior studying industrial engineering, mathematics and economics. Nites will be remaining on campus for a fifth year to finish his degree. He is currently the only candidate for presidency, but late candidates are still able to enter the election.

Nites is a member of the Engineering Student Council, an ambassador to the Honors College, a member of the Honors College Advisory Board, a new member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the treasurer of Alpha Pi Mu honor society.

He intends to revise the SGB Allocations Manual, to implement a student advisory council to hold the Board accountable and to make the Board a more united, transparent governmental organization.

Nites was the Allocations Committee chairman from January 2012 to January 2013. He said the current Allocations Manual is disorganized and includes outdated policies. He wants to revise the manual to figure out how to fund student organizations more efficiently.

Nites wants to establish a council of students from Student-Affairs-affiliated groups and outside of SGB to hold the Board accountable and to provide input to the Board on changes to the Allocations Manual and other projects.

He said he would unite the Board by having members work on projects together. Nites said the members currently operate mainly as individuals to implement projects. He also said that he would make SGB more transparent by requiring the Board to vote on its budget at a public meeting and that he wants the Board members to publicly discuss decisions more frequently, as opposed to making up their minds before entering Board meetings.

Klein, a junior studying business and film, is a sister of Theta Phi Alpha, the director of fundraising for the Student Civic Engagement Council and a video intern for the Office of Student Affairs.

She is campaigning to extend the hours of operation for University fitness facilities, increase campus safety and establish a procedure for students outside of the Board to get their ideas heard and to implement projects.

Klein has met with Commander Shawn Ellies of the Pitt Police Department to discuss placing more of the Pitt Police’s blue light emergency phones off campus and to ensure that students who are leaving the library at later hours due to its extended operating times will feel safe in the Oakland area.

To increase communication between students and the Board, Klein said she wants to have a central theme every month, such as food, to which students would be able to submit project ideas through social media and other venues. The Board would choose the most commonly submitted ideas or noteworthy plans to implement on campus.

Benjamin, a junior studying linguistics, is the president of Rainbow Alliance, a brother of Delta Chi fraternity, a member of the Blue and Gold Society, the business manager of the Linguistics Club, the vice chair of the SGB Academics Affairs Committee, a server on the Judicial Board of the Interfraternity Council and a teaching assistant in the linguistics department.

Benjamin said he will try to increase the number of workout facilities on lower campus and to streamline course registration so students can search by general education requirements and see syllabi while enrolling. He said he also wants to install a fixture on campus that would be painted by student organizations and would serve both as an advertising tool for groups and to promote school spirit.

He has spoken to Kathy Humphrey, vice provost and dean of students. Benjamin said Humphrey wants to revamp campus workout facilities, including putting a small workout center on the third floor of the William Pitt Union.

Benjamin is working with the Academic Affairs Committee to streamline the course registration process. Benjamin wants to revise PeopleSoft to improve the search process and is contacting professors to discuss publishing tentative schedules to courses so students will have a better understanding of their workload.

In terms of the advertising tool, Benjamin said he is researching what materials the fixture could be made of and possible locations for its placement.

Independent Candidates:

Lauren Barney

Barney, a junior studying Chinese and political science, is a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, a member of the Hillel Jewish University Center’s Arts and Culture and Jewish Education committees, a member of the Pitt Program Council’s Public Relations Committee and a member of the Academic Affairs Committee. She also served as an intern for Board member Zoe Samudzi during the 2012 term.

Barney plans to eliminate Saturday final exams, to offer a universal mug to promote sustainability and reduce beverage costs at on-campus Sodexo locations and to beautify the campus by planting more greenery and constructing turf areas with amenities such as volleyball nets.

According to Barney, she has made significant progress on the elimination of Saturday final exams by meeting with administrators, researching the system behind the finals schedule and comparing the system to those at other state-related universities, such as Temple and Penn State universities.

Through her work on this initiative and past experience as an intern, Barney said that she is beginning to understand the University as an institution. As an independent candidate, she said that reaching an audience of voters may require more time than it would for a three-person slate. But she said that her involvement in the Greek and Jewish communities paired with her independent candidacy enables her to get her own message out there.

Jake Radziwon

Radziwon, a junior studying marketing, was the coordinator of the 2012 and 2013 Arrival Survival campaigns, is the president of Pitt Club Sports and is the vice president of the rugby team.

Radziwon is campaigning to revamp the on-campus housing selection process — specifically the way lottery numbers are issued. Radziwon is also campaigning to move the process of purchasing tickets for Pitt holiday shuttles online and to make the athletic complexes more available to club sports groups. He also wants to extend the hours of operation of campus workout facilities.

Radziwon said his job as the Arrival Survival coordinator gave him the experience and connections he’ll need to revamp the housing selection process. He is working with the Office of Parking, Transportation and Services to move the holiday shuttle ticket sales online. He plans to also use his experience in club sports to improve club sports teams’ access to facilities.