USG moves to establish committee

Written By Amanda Andrews, USG Beat Writer

The United Student Government (USG) is in the tentative process of creating a new committee. Senator Emily Harnett is pushing for a new USG committee that addresses accessibility issues within Point Park University for disabled

Harnett said her work with LGBTQ advocacy groups piqued her interest in accessibility for people with disabilities.

“I found a lot of awareness about different people’s needs,” Harnett said. “And how there’s a lot of people who have invisible disabilities too that you can’t even peg as like, ‘Oh, this person needs something like this or something like that,’ so I just became very aware of it, and I want to make Point Park’s campus the most accessibility-friendly as

Harnett’s primary goal is to examine all buildings on campus and assess whether the physical structures present actually meet disabled students’ needs. Harnett said this process will be technically-based, with measurement of different ramps, railings and ledges involved.

From there, Harnett plans to try and use work orders to fix the areas providing accessibility problems to students. She is still uncertain as to what additional course of action should be taken after the work orders are filled out. She is considering consulting another party who could help.

Harnett will have to be approved as a chair to this proposed committee by President Kaylee Kearns. While this was the first time Harnett discussed this committee in a legislative body meeting, Harnett unofficially proposed the idea of a committee centered around accessibility and disabilities at USG’s retreat to Camp Crestfield in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania during the last weekend of September.

“This weekend when we were at retreat it was great,” Harnett said. “I brought it up just in kind of an informal way and so many people have responded being really excited and I can tell that this group of people is very supportive and welcoming group for this kind of stuff.”

Harnett was not the only senator at the retreat to bring up problems USG could address. Senator Matthew Johnson shared some of the discussions held by new senators at the retreat in Monday’s meeting.

“We split up into groups and talked about different ways to help the school, just different scenarios,” Johnson said. “And one thing my group talked about [is] if you’re a freshman or have eaten in the dining hall or the cafe a lot of times the tables are not that clean. So we talked about a couple ways to get that fixed. We [have] a five step plan.”

Johnson proceeded to go into detail about the proposed solution, which involved contacting various employees of Culinart and setting up easier ways for the students themselves to clean up tables via Clorox wipes in a system similar to the one used for the fourth floor gym in the Student Center. 

14 people were in attendance at the USG retreat, which mostly consisted of new senators, Vice President Brittany Arp and President Kearns. Several veteran senators were not in attendance, despite the trip being billed as mandatory.

The retreat took place the weekend after veteran senators voted to censure President Kearns on two counts. The third count of censure was tabled last week and was tabled again this week as Kearns was attending a faculty meeting during Monday’s USG legislative body session.

Should Kearns be met with a third censure next week, the automatic process of an impeachment trial will begin the following week. Despite this, Kearns considered the retreat to be a success overall. 

“It was […] a chance to sit down with [new senators for] more than just an hour or so, so they could get a better overview of what USG is and what we want this year to be,” Kearns said.

Over the last week, a new graphic coordinator was chosen by President Kearns, Vice President Arp, Communications Director Allison Schubert and Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership Coordinator Brad Kovalcik along with the USG Communications Committee after an informal interview process. Sophomore photography major Taylor Mahls was sworn in after the adjournment of the meeting due to Kearns’ absence during the legislative body meeting.

“She’ll be helping with social media ads, posters around campus pertaining to USG and then if USG wants to do hot cards or anything so it’s like advertisement,” Senator Shelby Fink said.

USG held their first table meeting for student concerns, as a part of the Student Concerns Committee, in front of Point Cafe shortly following the adjournment of the formal USG legislative body meeting at 4:30 p.m.