Presidential Perspectives: A look at this year

I am writing this column for the last time, since my term as Student Body President ends at the end of this month. Student government has made some major improvements this year, and I will humbly highlight a few.
Leading up to the general election last November, student government launched a trial of the Collegiate Readership Program, which provided free copies of The New York Times, USA Today, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette so that students could be more informed about political issues. The recently approved referendum will make newspapers available during the entire academic year, starting next semester.
Student government also formed a coalition of student organizations to coordinate voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities in the Presidential election. Coalition members organized some fantastic events, including the public showing of all three Presidential debates, a voter mobilization concert, and a student debate. Outside of all these events, student volunteers registered students to vote. On Election Day, student government acquired the use of University shuttle buses to take students to and from polling places to make it as easy as possible for students to vote. Student voter turnout was reported to be the highest it has been since 1972.
Student government seized students? political engagement and mobilized over one thousand students to write letters to Pennsylvania state politicians about proposed cutbacks to Port Authority bus services.
Following the visit of Malik Zulu Shabazz, student government sponsored two public forums to facilitate dialogue between students. I also held private meetings with campus leaders to discuss the issues raised by his speech.
Student government restructured its reserve accounts this year, freeing up funds for capital projects for Activities Board, cmuTV, and WRCT, so that these organizations will be able to better serve the campus community.
We funded the addition of reverberation-dampening panels to Wiegand Gymnasium, so that concerts and events held there will sound dramatically better, and worked to install a card reader on the University Center door next to Entropy, so that students coming from the west side of campus have easier access to the building after midnight. We also encouraged the administration to install card readers on many of the vending machines across campus.
You may have noticed that the library is open 24 hours a day this week. This was another initiative of student government. We are also working to extend the operating hours of the University Center, particularly for athletics facilities, the dining locations, and Entropy. Over the summer, there will be more improvements to dining with major renovations coming to the Highlander Cafeteria and Skibo Coffeehouse.
Last June, I visited Carnegie Mellon?s Qatar campus and attempted to lay the groundwork for student government there. I returned over Spring Break to find a flourishing campus with an active student government.
Student government also worked to incorporate the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility into this year?s commencement exercises. Students who take this pledge make a commitment to consider the social and environmental consequences of their work after graduation.
I would like to thank everyone involved in student government who helped make this past year such a success. I would like to thank The Tartan for offering me this opportunity to write about student government, and I thank you for reading.