2021 SGA Election Profiles: Dennis McDermott

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Co-News Editor

Dennis McDermott is currently the president of the Student Government Association (SGA). McDermott is a junior political science major and is seeking re-election. 

Despite the fact that the university plans to transition back to all in-person classes as the coronavirus pandemic nears an apparent end, McDermott said that his policies and positions won’t change much.

“A lot of the things that I would be focusing on would not change. I’m still going to be advocating for further transparency and student inclusion in every aspect of any university decision that is made,” McDermott said. “COVID has only increased the power of the students to…be included in these processes.”

McDermott credits the passing of a pass/no credit option as one of his biggest accomplishments of his term and said that he believes that it is evidence that he and his executive cabinet can get things done.

“When I told Paul Hennigan that we wanted a pass/no credit option…he said no…but after petitioning, organizing the students, organizing town halls, sending a letter to the administration, gathering up support…they had to acquiesce to our demands,” McDermott said.

Another thing McDermott credits himself and his executive cabinet with is the canceling of the fall Playhouse season.

“The university didn’t want to cancel the Playhouse season for the fall,” McDermott said. “They wanted to keep doing that so that they could earn money…but students didn’t want to be involved in a Playhouse season…they didn’t feel safe. We made them cancel that.” 

McDermott is against the university’s recent decision to send letters of non-renewal to faculty members.

“They are illegal. That’s not what SGA is calling them as a legislative body, but I have read the whole collective bargaining agreement, and it is my opinion after gathering information from both the administration and the faculty that they are illegal terminations.”

McDermott has expressed that he believes the SGA could have an impact on potentially rescinding the letters of non-renewal.

“I am hopeful…some people are less so,” McDermott said. “One of my opponents has made it very clear that they do not think that me pursuing…these actions will persuade the university to do something or are even in the interests of the student body. But it could definitely have an impact.”

McDermott has repeatedly stressed that if the student body wants something done, he believes they can accomplish it through organizing.

“If the student body wants a decision to be made, let’s be clear, they can make that decision be made,” McDermott said. “There is nothing that the university can do if the student body organizes well enough.”

McDermott has expressed that while he is prepared to push back against the administration, he believes in working with the administration.

“There’s a little bit of fighting, but ultimately I want to work with the university as much as they want to work with me,” McDermott said.

McDermott states that he believes in improving Point Park not just in the short term, but ultimately making long term improvements to the school.

“It kind of sucks when the university talks about plans they have…and you know you’re not going to be around to be included in that process…but I’m not caught up in that mindset…and I look forward to having the opportunity to improve the lives of many students,” McDermott said. “You kind of have to, like the Bernie Sanders saying, fight for people that you don’t know…if you don’t do that, who’s going to fight for you, and your future?”