Photo courtesy of GT Progressive Student Alliance (https://www.facebook.com/GTProgressiveStudentAlliance)

I met Scout Schultz two weeks ago.

DM Smith 011 was packed with pizza boxes and passionate students on a Tuesday evening (standing room only as I walked in late) as the Georgia Tech Progressive Student Alliance (GTPSA) kicked off the first gathering of the school year.

Students, one by one, including Scout, pitched fall semester proposals and overviews and announced upcoming events from different campus organizations. Brochures, jokes, and PowerPoint slides. New partners in progress. Calls to action. I remember the way the room felt, the buzz of excitement that comes when you realize you’re eating pepperonis with 60 incredible, like-minded people.

Just weeks later, we are reeling from loss, searching for meaning.

It’s been 16 days since that first meeting, and today, I find myself sitting on the GTPSA Core Team, advocating for positive change. I’m surrounded by raised voices.

While we huddle in empty classrooms, heavy-hearted and eager to address several pressing issues, I can’t help feeling as though this tragedy could’ve been prevented.

Discussion of campus policy amendment surfaces. For days, we question why GTPD chose not to utilize a non-lethal option.

We think of the wait-list and under-staffing at the Counseling Center. We consider the fact that so few resources are provided for the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. But the most urgent question resounds: “What comes next?”

There is work to be done.

The Georgia Tech Progressive Student Alliance is already taking action. We’re speaking out. We’re making our demands known — and it’s more than pink sidewalk chalk and signs.

I’m not sure that there’s been a more critical time to publicize our ideas of what we think is right, what we know our students deserve, what we’re certain would strengthen and sustain our Yellow Jacket home.

As a single organization, we know that nothing can be accomplished without time and support. Working with administration and policy is a lengthy process that isn’t easy.

But for me, change begins now — with a group of people and a big vision.

It begins with uplifting a fallen leader and striving to continue the community they helped bring together. It begins with healing and with hope and with pride in this place we call ours.

So we hope others will join us in our moving forward — #ScoutAhead. After all, we are one Georgia Tech. We see you. We love you. And Scout, wemiss you.