Rounding out year, USG looks to 2019


Photo by Joie Knouse

President Paul Hennigan addresses the USG body at their meeting Monday.

Written By Amanda Andrews, USG Beat Writer

United Student Government (USG) held its first Legislative Body Meeting since the end of Thanksgiving Break and has already started planning new objectives for the spring semester.

Senator Sophie Burkholder suggested the popularly-received idea of USG creating and hosting a radio show on WPPJ Radio next semester. A self-described fan of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats,” Burkholder proposed calling the USG radio show “Pointside Chats” as a homage and said the concept came to her “spur of the moment” at a Disabilities Accommodations Committee meeting.

Although there are no official plans regarding the development of a USG radio show, Burkholder expressed she ideally wants it to be held on Monday evenings so the events of that particular day’s USG meeting would be fresh in the minds of the senators hosting
the show.

Dean of Students Keith Paylo was one of the first to commend Burkholder for her idea, citing that many USG organizations at different colleges had such a system set up to discuss USG topics, and that students could call in with various questions, concerns or complaints directly to senators.

“It just inspired me because I know a lot that was discussed this semester was we want to relate to the students. We want them to see us as representing them; we’re not just something against them. We are for them. We are representing them because they vote for us to represent them,”
Burkholder said. 

In discussion, some senators agreed the format of the show would be best presented in podcasts instead of a live radio show as initially suggested by President Pro-Tempore Megan Ortego.

Senators brainstormed and envisioned the show could not only recap USG legislative body meetings for students not in attendance, but could also act as a forum for discussion.   

USG then moved to unanimously vote to create the Pioneer Community Day Ad-Hoc Committee in preparation for USG’s annual Pioneer Community Day, tentatively scheduled to take place in April.

Community Day is where USG and other Point Park students volunteer in different areas of the Pittsburgh community in coordination with local nonprofits.

“You start in the morning and we try and get as many students to volunteer as we can,” Kearns said. “We’re hoping to really get a big group together this year to go out to a handful of different organizations like Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Light of Life, and try to do a little bit of clean up, giving back to the community. And then early afternoon have some sort of food for them to come back to. It’s usually pretty cold, so just having a warm place to kind of gather and hang out right at the end of the semester.”

According to Michael Gieske, Dean of Student Life, and Paylo, Pioneer Community Day has been around at Point Park University for several years.

Paylo made a comment during discussion that this year there needed to be more of an “emphasis,” where one had been lacking, on the purpose of Pioneer Community Day lately, which he expanded on later.

“The key to it still is giving back to the Pittsburgh community because this is our campus,” Paylo said. “I remember the first year we all volunteered. Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership – we did a lot of graffiti removal. We were painting walls and we were doing all kinds of different things. So it’s not as though we’re not still doing that, I think it just needs an influx of enthusiasm again for the purpose of the event.” 

President Paul Hennigan also visited USG this week to follow up on concerns regarding his last appearance where he addressed tuition and financial aid for students.

Hennigan said he plans on creating various focus groups starting in January and February to start more conversations on the “pricing structure of the university” and possible alternatives that are being considered, and USG may be involved in this process.

However, senators were also interested in the issue of diversifying the faculty, which involves discrepancies in diversity and inclusion training across the faculty as well as the Faculty Search Committee that hires new faculty.

Hennigan said he hopes once the new university administrator for diversity and inclusion is hired, discrepancies would be eliminated.