SGB leaders discuss structural changes

By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

The head of Pitt’s Student Government Board said Pitt’s Board is unusual compared to other universities.

He added that this may not be a good thing.

The Board’s president, Gordon Louderback, hosted an open forum last night in Dining Room B of the William Pitt Union. The event was attended by about 20 current and future Board members, SGB committee members and other students. During the meeting, Louderback invited current SGB members and other students to critique the structure of Pitt’s student government.

Louderback also said the Board decided two weeks ago to begin researching other student government organizations. He said the Board members want to implement a new system by the spring of 2014. Louderback described the structures of large universities’ student government organizations that differ from Pitt’s Board. Louderback said Pitt SGB will continue to host monthly meetings to get feedback about changing the structure of SGB.

Louderback said the idea of changing the Board’s structure is something that comes up during every term. He said the Board is interested in pursuing a different structure because of factors such as the low participation in this year’s SGB election and the fluctuating rules that govern the election.

“We have had so many election rules changes in past terms. So, maybe this could be an answer to move towards a more solidified elections system,” Louderback said.

Although this would not affect the current Board’s term, Louderback said the Board members want to offer their opinions and experiences to the next Board.

“It’s something that if we never brought up, who knows if the next Board would look into making a change,” Louderback said.

Louderback presented a proposed timeline to implement a new structure.

The next Board would continue to research and choose two to three structures that combined elements of other schools’ student governments to consider during the spring of 2014. By the fall term of that year, the Board would have a final structure chosen and would prepare a referendum about the new structure for the student body to vote on in the 2014 election. The 2014 election would be conducted under SGB’s present structure.

By the spring of 2015, the Board would edit and approve new bylaws and decide upon logistical changes, such as where SGB’s office space would be located. The first election conducted under the new structure would take place in the fall of 2015 and include projects addressing final details for its implementation.

Under Louderback’s timeline, the new structure would be fully implemented by the spring of 2016.

Louderback also presented information about student government structures at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and University of California-San Diego, all of which differ from the structure of Pitt’s SGB.

Board member Thomas Jabro already has a plan in mind for SGB’s new structure. Under Jabro’s proposal, there would be separate executive and allocations boards. Jabro proposed that there would be a president, vice president, 18 Board members and nine committees on the executive board.

Jabro said that adding more members would make SGB less of an “insiders’ group” and constitute a better representation of the student body.

Jabro said the vice president would be the runner-up in the presidential race.

Jabro also said he wants to implement an allocations board that would consist of a chairman, vice chairman and 20 committee members elected by the student body.

“If you look at the average SGB week, a lot of public meeting and planning sessions are spent doing allocations requests,” Jabro said. “There are a lot of things that we, as a Board, can do more to reach out to students.”

Graeme Meyer, a newly elected Board member, expressed concern about students voting for roughly 40 SGB positions.

Robert Beecher, Government Relations Committee chair, said this number is not uncommon for other student governments.

Brandon Benjamin, a newly elected Board member who will take office in January, suggested expanding SGB committees and working on “small fixes” instead of pursuing a new structure.

“I’m not opposed to big changes,” Benjamin said. “I just kind of wanted to point out … these big structural changes aren’t necessarily the end goal.”