SGA voted on Tuesday to fund a $5000 student competition to replace JacketPages, Tech’s student organization and bill submission portal. GSS approved the bill unanimously and UHR passed it with a vote of 31-4-0.
The competition aims to address many of the usability issues SGA has encountered while attempting to work with JacketPages and its developer, Collegiate Link.
According to a “Request for Proposal” developed by an SGA committee chaired by AE Senator Evan McClain, the competition will focus on replacing the bill submission aspect of JacketPages. The judging committee will accept initial submissions through March 16, select three finalists, and then ask for prototypes by April 6 with a final implementation date of July 1.
The committee will award prizes of $500 to the three finalists, $1000 to the overall winner, and will use an additional $1000 to incentivize the development of additional features. SGA will use the final $1000 to find a replacement for the social networking aspects of JacketPages.
Several members of the Graduate Executive Cabinet spoke in strong support of the bill. Secretary of the Senate and AE Sen. James Black emphasized the money that would be saved through this competition, the improvement in usability and the fact that the new system could be modified more easily and quickly. Executive Vice President Kathy Schnure added that the Senate was no longer using JacketPages for bill submissions and instead was using a workaround involving Microsoft Excel.
Some Senators, including PSYCH Sen. Keith Bujak raised concerns over the long-term maintenance of the program. Bujak raised the point that student built systems typically are neglected. He also expressed worries over the usability of the system.
McClain responded by saying that SGA would appoint a Joint IT Chair to maintain the new system. Adressing the usability issues, McClain suggested that Bujak and similarly minded Senators join the judging committee.
Debate in UHR was more contentious, with several representatives expressing concern over the short time table.
“This is throwing good money at bad ideas,” said MGT Rep. Mathias Rost.
He suggested that the competition be integrated into a senior design competition next year. He later explained in an email, “…the timeline is overly aggressive. We want to build an IT solution for the next few years in a few weeks? That’s unnecessarily rushed and dangerous thinking. “
After the vote in the House, Graduate Student Body President Anthony Baldridge expressed his approval.
“I’m ecstatic at the outcome,” Baldridge said. “Today was a victory for every student organization at Georgia Tech.”
Undergraduate Vice President of Student Organizations Matlock Rogers, the chief representative of Undergraduate SGA in this process agreed.
“I’m really excited. This looks good for any [Computer Science student] to put in his portfolio. We’re expecting to have really good participation already,” Rogers said.
SGA began working on the concept of a student competition in the end of fall semester after complaints from Representatives and Senators. The problems with JacketPages were exacerbated after a Jan. upgrade which changed the way that bills were presentated to Representatives and Senators. After the upgrade, GSS and UHR began using the Excel workaround. JacketPages cost $20,000 to develop and costs $13,000 a year to maintain. CollegiateLink, an outside company, maintains the site and performs upgrades.
Magicians at Georgia Tech successfully requested $500 in funds to bring an outside magician and lecturer to campus. GSS passed the bill 37-0-1 and UHR passed it 33-7-5.
As they did last time they requested funds, representatives of the organization entertained both the Senate and the House with a short demonstration of their magic shows. Senators and Representatives reacted favorably to the organization’s exploits.
During debate in the House, several Representatives questioned whether SGA should allocate funds to an event which will occur in the summer. The organizational representatives confirmed that the event would be held in the time between the spring and summer semesters, but expressed confidence that attendance would be sufficient.
Women’s Awareness Month
The Graduate Student Senate considered and passed a bill funding Women’s Awareness Month with a vote of 34-0-1. The bill will allocate $1071.51 to run events such as Take Back the Night, Women’s Day of Service and the Vagina Monologues.
The House passed the bill last week after cutting the requested amount by 85 percent. Following a brief floor debate, the House chose to re-fund $231 in candles for Take Back the Night. The Senate passed an identical bill this week.