SGB appoints webmaster to update site

SGB appoints webmaster to update site

By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

Robert Burger started his own website design and computer graphics company during his senior year of high school. 

Now Burger, a freshman majoring in computer science, will design a new website for the Student Government Board, and he isn’t charging them a single cent. But he does want some recognition, including his name listed on the website. 

“I’m hoping it will give me some networking opportunities,” Burger said, who joked that he was “doing it out of the kindness of [his] heart.”

The Board previously employed webmaster Mahen Seneviratne to manage the website and update its behind-the-scenes programming. Seneviratne said that SGB paid him roughly $7 per hour during the 2012-2013 school year. Burger said he does not plan to seek compensation from the Board or stay in the position long-term. The Board appointed Burger as webmaster to update the current SGB website and begin working on a new, more manageable website. He will use WordPress, a free content-management system, which will allow the Board members to make revisions to the website without a webmaster’s help. Burger initially met Board president Gordon Louderback through Emerging Leaders, a program that aims to foster leadership skills in students, where the two discussed the state of SGB’s website and Burger’s past computer experience.

Board member Mike Nites said that it would be easier for Board members to make announcements and maintain the website themselves — something that does not take extensive knowledge of HTML, the website-programming language — if Burger creates a more intuitive webdesign.

“We can login [and make changes], and we don’t have to know how to [computer] program to do that,” Nites said.

On Tuesday night, Burger updated the page that displays the times of the board members’ office hours. The page had not been updated since last semester.

All of the Board members will have profiles on the new website. Burger said that the Board members will have the ability to edit their pages by themsleves, allowing them to add information “if a new member does something extraordinary,” such as receiving an award.

The Board hired Seneviratne in the fall of 2012 to update the website and to build a new one. Louderback dismissed Seneviratne in September.

Nites said Seneviratne was not making sufficient progress on updating the current site and building a new one at the time of his dismissal. Louderback was not available for comment at the meeting because he is in Panama working on an engineering project.

Seneviratne said he could not keep up with the workload when he began another job over the summer because he was not living in Pittsburgh. He also needed access to Pitt’s servers to work on the website.

Burger said he will see the website through to completion before transferring the upkeep responsibilities and moving on to resume work with his computer business, Burger Group, which he started in 2012. 

“At this point, I have no problem building the website and handing it off,” Burger said. “It just needs to get done.”

In other action:

Student Government Board elections packets are available in the William Pitt Union, room 848. The packets and the online application are due Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Students running for Board need 200 signatures of students supporting their candidacy, while students running for president need 250. An online form where candidates identify the two candidates who they plan to run with is due Oct. 25 at 5 p.m.

Registration for Pitt Make a Difference Day has been extended from 4,500 to 4,800 participants. PMADD will take place on Oct. 26, and events leading up to the day start Oct 21. 

The Board voted to appoint Jennifer Zhang, a senior, to the Constitutional Review Committee.

Board member David Rosenthal said he is working with the New York Times readership program to bring a spokesperson from the newspaper to speak on campus. Rosenthal said he has to submit a topic for the speaker to discuss and is open to student recommendations. 

Rosenthal also said that off-campus housing seminars will be hosted on Nov. 28 and 29. Attorneys will be present at the seminars to help teach about landlords and their rights as tenants.

Board member Sarah Winston and Academic Affairs Committee Chairman Nuwan Perera will have a conference call with a representative from the University of Pennsylvania to work on a system that allows students to swap textbooks with students from other universities. 

Nites, along with Board member Thomas Jabro, will have a Food Committee meeting for students to speak with representatives from Sodexo on Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. in room 548 of the William Pitt Union. 

Board member Nites said he and Lauren Barney, a junior at Pitt, met with the Registrar’s Office to make improvements to the final exam schedule, including the elimination of Saturday finals that take place from 4 to 6 p.m.

Board members Amelia Brause and John Cordier were excused from the meeting.


The Pitt Sailing Club requested $2,400 to purchase trailers to transport its sailboats. The request was approved in full.

The Exercise Physiology Club requested $1,999.46 for four members to attend a Health and Fitness Exposition in Atlanta. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

Circle K International requested $600 for dues to remain a part of its international organization. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

Socially Responsible Investment Club requested $795 to purchase a yearlong subscription to CSRHub, a site that provides corporate social responsibility ratings. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

Pitt Intercollegiate Snowboard Team requested $7,884.92 to cover costs for the club’s Rail Jam and two ski and snowboard trips to locations in Vermont. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

The Lady Panthers Soccer Club requested $1,562.40 to attend regionals in Downingtown, Pa. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

Amnesty International requested $598 for four members to attend the Amnesty International Regional Conference in Washington, D.C. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation. 

The African Music and Dance Club requested $891.86 to purchase instruments for its performances. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation. 

Pitt Mock Trial requested to transfer $2,421.99 that the club had been previously allocated for two tournaments to cover costs for a new tournament, the Quaker Classic Invitational. The request was approved in full in line with the Allocations recommendation.

The Board has allocated $101,121.19 so far this semester.