Committee cuts to repair student unity

Kylee Whistler, Copy Editor

Although UPJ’s Student Government Association uses committees as a tool to help increase student participation, two committees have been cut in an attempt to create more student unity.

Commuter and international-student committees were established during student government President Cliff Maloney’s first semester as president in 2011, Maloney said.

“I think there is just a general apathy on college campuses,” Maloney said, “and, when there is apathy, you try to do something to increase participation.”

According to Maloney, setting up committees for international and commuter students seemed like a good way to provide an outlet for those groups not participating, and the idea gained popularity among other student government members.

“The committees were voted in unanimously by (student government) as a whole,” he said.

Recently, however, some student government members said these committees posed a threat to student unity.

Student senator and former Commuter Relations Committee Chairman David Romani said he was a commuter during his freshman year.

He said he was heavily involved on campus but saw a lack of commuter presence during campus events.

Romani said he believed cutting the committee would be counterproductive, causing student government to take a step backward.

“To be honest, if the senate is trying to handle the overall issues of the student body as a whole, they should realize that almost half of the student body is made up of commuters.”

Even with the committee’s cut, student government hosts events throughout the year to give commuters an opportunity to get involved, Romani said.

Student senator and former International Committee Chairman Michael Imgrund said he believed removing the committees would help unite students.

“When we try to focus on certain groups, such as commuters or international students, it’s kind of like isolating them and saying, ‘Here, look at these students,’ ” he said.

Similarly, Maloney said he also believed the committees seemed to isolate students and pushed them further away from participating in general campus events.

“We saw a need to bring in these individual committees, but it kind of contradicts the idea that we are all students.”

Student government unanimously voted to cut the committees.

Maloney said, because of the minimal effect cutting the committees caused, it has been shown that they no longer need to exist.

Instead of focusing on select groups, Maloney said student government should reach out to all students as a whole.

“We get our rights not as domestic or international students, not as commuter or resident students; we get our rights as Pitt-Johnstown students.”