Brennan Conway (he/him)
Economics, Political Science
My name is Brennan Conway, candidate for Student Government Board. I am a Junior studying Economics and Political Science and a proud member of the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band. I am running to represent you, me, and all 19,200 Pitt Students on Student Government Board as part of the Betterment Slate. As Pitt students, we enjoy all the benefits of our University’s rich history, unique urban environment, and unparalleled academic excellence. Most importantly, we are all members of a resilient and inclusive community, and the challenges we’ve faced and conquered this year have certainly proven that. But we think Pitt can be even Better. That’s why we built our core platform around our community with three main goals: First, we will establish a joint and open student committee to review the Flex@Pitt Model and make concrete recommendations to the administration on how we should proceed after COVID-19. The committee will be open to any student, regardless of year, major, or involvement in student organizations, and we hope to bring together a diverse collection of experiences and ideas. I think we’d all agree that COVID-19 has led to some innovative approaches that are worth improving upon and continuing in the future, but we’ve also had some unfavorable policies that negatively impacted our education and collegiate experience. This committee will be your opportunity to make your voice heard at the highest level and effect real change. Through your input and collaboration, we can present a well-developed set of recommendations that will make the hybrid environment more engaging and then work closely with the administration to ensure that they are implemented in a swift, practical, and inclusive manner. Second, we will advocate for the University to join over 55 other institutions of higher learning and sign the Chicago Statement on Free Speech, or to amend the Pitt Promise with a similar statement that ensures all students and faculty have the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn free from fear or interference. The ability to think independently, challenge preconceived notions, investigate truths, and share new ideas are essential to the academic process. And while Pitt has an obligation to protect our Constitutional liberties as a state-related University, it holds an even greater responsibility to remain a safe-haven for free thought and innovative learning as an academic institution. That’s why we will push the administration to adopt official language protecting the sacred right of free speech and academic autonomy. Third, we will work closely with the Allocations Committee to streamline the allocations process for student organizations and ensure full transparency on where and how our $2.7 million Student Activities Fund is distributed. Since we all pay into the fund, it’s essential that the allocation process is clear and that our money is distributed equitably. Currently, by mandate of the Allocations Manual, “The [Allocations] Committee will then render a decision after private deliberations [for supplemental funding requests].” We will push to amend the SGB Governing Code to ensure that all allocations decisions are made in meeting open to the public to ensure transparency and trust. We will also work with the Allocations Committee to clarify and simplify funding requests and ensure that student orgs are well educated on the process. Finally, and most vitally, we also promise to listen to you. As representatives, nothing is more important to us than ensuring every student’s voice is heard, so we will remain accessible and carefully consider every issue or proposal that you bring to us. Let’s make our great University even better, together. Vote for Betterment on March 2nd.