Peterson responds to the undergraduate white paper

Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson recently released a response to the white paper that was produced in March by the Undergraduate Student Government Special Committee on the Presidential Transition.

Based on surveys conducted among members of the undergraduate student body, the white paper covers campus-wide concerns such as the functionality of Tech’s internet portals, student support and dead week policies, diversity and community service. The white paper also praises Tech’s strengths in sustainability, international opportunities and Tech traditions. Both Peterson and the undergraduate student body find the biggest concern to be communication issues, particularly in Tech’s online presence.

“Even the President has a hard time getting important messages out. That’s why there’s a push for the campus portal solution as a center to everything,” said Amira Choueiki, third-year INTA, a member of the committee involved in the paper’s production.

“Communication will hopefully be resolved as we try to create a better ‘one-stop-shop’ campus portal,” said Alina Staskevicius, undergraduate student body president .

“When our communication is efficient enough, it’s too little, and when it’s broad enough, it’s completely inefficient,” said Stephen Kump, fifth-year ECON/MGT and committee chair.

In his response Peterson places heavy emphasis on the diversification of curriculum, increasing scheduling flexibility to allow students to take courses outside their majors.

“Tech is a technological university, and because of this, a great deal of technical depth defines most curricula. There is increasing understanding, however, that breadth needs to also define a Tech degree,” Peterson said.

“One of the President’s biggest things is the well-rounded leader, and that’s what we’re trying to produce. This is an institution producing the leaders in the fields, not just the work forces,” Choueiki said.

Peterson also notes the change in core curriculum courses to include “communication skills, a global perspective, team work and critical thinking skills.”

“Intellectual community is truly a culture shift – a shift to a Georgia Tech with more well-rounded curricula, a prominent speaker series and a bigger emphasis on service,” Staskevicius said.

Another key component of the white paper is the need for an expanded Student Center. Overcrowding has been a growing concern for several years now.

“We need to be creative in identifying meeting space in other locations until plans for an expansion of the student center can be developed,” Peterson said.

“We don’t have a central main street. We don’t have a college town, but we want to create that sense of community,” Choueiki said.

“It’s time for Georgia Tech’s character to grow and mature. We must become more intellectually diverse, more middlebrow minded and more deeply committed contributors to the intellectual society,” Kump said.

In his response, Peterson made it clear that Tech will grow as a leading institute in the next 25 years, offering new academic opportunities and accommodating the opinions of the growing student body.

“I think it was incredible that [Peterson] took every single point that we had and wrote a response for it. He still has a constant pulse of student input; it wasn’t just a one-time thing. He’s been so proactive about everything he’s seen in that paper that he can be right now,” Choueiki said.