Tyler Viljaste (he/ him)
Finance and Politics and Philosophy
My name is Tyler Viljaste (he/him), and I am a junior pursuing a dual degree in Politics and Philosophy and Finance. This year, I am running to be Student Government Board president for the upcoming academic year. Since the first week I stepped on campus as a freshman, I have been extensively involved in Student Government Board: as a former member of the First Year Council as a freshman, the former Chair of the Community and Governmental Relations Committee as a sophomore, and as the current Vice President and Chief of Staff, Student Government has been my central priority in my time at Pitt and I am excited about the opportunity to continue doing so in my senior year if elected President. Being involved with Student Government Board has given me an incredible opportunity to work extensively with many amazing students, faculty, and staff, and I am extremely proud of the work I have done this far: whether it be introducing civic advising and working with the Director of PittServes in writing the proposal for the Civic Engagement Hub; establishing and coordinating the work of the PittVotes task force; creating and leading the LGBTQIA+ resources and center task force and creating the formal proposal for an LGBTQIA+ center; serving as a member of the Pitt Dining task force; working with Greek Life on uplifting their image and promoting Greek philanthropy; and working with administration to increase student pay across the board, among many others, I have always poured my heart and soul into my work in the Student Government Board to advocate on behalf of the Student Body to make the Pitt experience better for all students. I firmly believe that the culmination of my experience and expertise, in working both with students as well as administration on a variety of major initiatives and programs, makes me uniquely qualified to achieve the greatest success in the position as President of the Student Government Board. If elected president, my platform will include four major initiatives: (1) promoting civic engagement on our campus by implementing the proposal for the Civic Engagement Hub and building further capacity for civic advising services that will ensure civic engagement is relevant, accessible, and meaningful to all Pitt students; (2) fostering increased transparency and collaboration between the student body and administration (as we recognize this has been extremely lacking, especially during the pandemic) by utilizing the vast resources of the Student Government Board, such as the student leader database, to include more non-SGB students in major decision making; holding more town halls and increasing opportunities for all students to speak directly to upper administration; as well as pushing the University to be clear and consistent with their messaging to students, especially around COVID-19 plans for students living on campus into next fall and spring; (3) promoting not simply diversity but inclusivity by holding the University accountable to the LGBTQIA+ center and resources task force proposal, and working to implement parts of the Black Senate list of demands which were not implemented (such as looking at ways to use the SGB reserve funds to implement some demands, such as Black student scholarships); and (4) reducing financial stress for students by reducing extraneous fees for fully virtual students, advocating for a tuition freeze, and adding to the COVID-19 student relief fund. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to run alongside a slate of amazing individuals who share a similar vision as I do. As President, I will continue to center the needs of the student body in everything that I do - using the power and resources of the Student Government Board to uplift and empower the needs of students on campus to ensure that the Pitt experience is the best it can possibly be for everyone. This pandemic has challenged us in ways we never could have imagined, but I am optimistic for the future: having witnessed the incredible resilience and strength of our community, I know that we will get through this pandemic. It is time to look to the Brightside - to project hope and optimism for a safe and successful upcoming year - and I hope you will consider voting for me so that we can see this vision through.