Students to vote on $35K donation

Photo courtesy of Klemis Kitchens

Keeping campus in the spirit of giving, the Student Alumni Association (SAA) has opened voting to the student body for the Gift to Tech. The Gift is an annual donation by SAA consisting of SAA membership dues and alumni donations.

Last year’s Gift was $31,000 to fund Klemis Kitchens, a resource for students who are facing financial hardships and cannot afford their own meals. With over 4500 SAA members and the donation of $10,000 by alumni Ken and Tyler Townsend (ME ‘64, IE ‘98), this year’s Gift is currently at $35,000 and growing.

With Tech’s status as the No. 1 public university in alumni giving, SAA believes that it is important to instill a culture of giving back to Tech early on. Students can help add to this fund by joining SAA and paying the $10 signup fee, $5 of which goes to the Gift to Tech with the other $5 going towards the Student Foundation’s Roll Call for the betterment of Tech.

Students and organizations can recommend projects, and SAA pares these down to eight projects to be voted on by the Tech community via SAA’s website. After community voting ends on March 13, the top three projects are put through another round of voting by SAA members, and the top project after that is announced on April 21.

Posed by the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) and the Office of Institute Diversity, the GT ALIGN Campus Accessibility app aims to make Tech’s campus more inclusive to students, faculty, visitors and staff who have difficulty maneuvering campus. The app would visualize up-to-date information such as sidewalk condition and locations of accessible entrances.

The Georgia Tech Police Department’s Campus Safety – Bike Bait Program is designed to help catch bicycle thieves on campus. The Gift would fund different model bicycles with GPS tracking units to be placed in areas that thieves typically target to catch criminals.

The Enhancements to Harrison Square and Cherry Street aim to improve the heart of Tech’s Historic Hill District and New Steelcase media: scape furniture and technology in Clough Commons would tackle the desire for students to collaborate more effectively. The technology in these stations allows students to connect their laptops and share information among other connected devices.

The SAA Free Concert Series is a plan to schedule four outdoor concerts in the outdoor Amphitheater next to the Ferst Center for the Arts. With two in the Fall and Spring, the concerts would be free to all of campus and feature professional performers. Providing electricity to students looking to relax outdoors, Solar-Powered Electricity Stands would provide a green way to relax and study. Using minimal space, the stands would provide a communal gathering spot for groups to work around or an emergency stop for a dying phone battery. The stands would be placed in Tech Green for open space for all.

With a Student Emergency Fund in place, students facing financial difficulty would be able to purchase something out of reach, like a suit or airfare for an interview. Managed by the Office of Financial Aid, a student-to-student support system would help out fellow students, especially when unexpected expenses arise.

Funding Student Mental Health would allow the Counseling Center to make enhancements to its program, as recommended by the 2014 President’s Task Force on Student Mental Health. The Gift would benefit the Center’s individualized psychological services, professional education and campus programs to empower students to reach academic and personal success.

In SAA’s five years on campus, the organization and the Gift to Tech have matured to where they can be more selective in the initial eight choices.

“We were mindful of who we let be in the top eight this year,” says fourth-year BA Carli Walker, President of SAA. “Hopefully in the future, it can be something that people apply for and give a pitch for, but we’re not at that point yet.”

Additionally, SAA is increasing visibility of the Gift to Tech in their presence on campus and in their choices of Gifts that appeal to the entire Tech community.

“The people who really know about the Gift are huge organizations who have a foot in the Gift,” Walker says. “We don’t want it to be just the Band or the Ramblin’ Reck Club. We want it to be everyone on campus who might not have any personal investment in any of the 8 projects voting on what they think is the best.”