SGA goes for transparency with town hall

Photo by Kirsten Reynolds

When fewer people than expected showed up at a town hall held by SGA, student body President Sujay Peramanu and Vice President Richard Wang seamlessly switched gears. They told attendees that the session would be more of a discussion than a presentation, and asked each and every person to introduce themselves by name and major.

Peramanu began the following conversation by explaining the way that roles in the executive council of SGA function: Peramanu has his hands on academics, student life and campus services, while Wang focuses on “the gears that make SGA turn,” like internal affairs, IT and finances.

The SGA president then launched into a description of what he has been working on. As part of recent dialogue on campus, SGA is working to destigmatize the conversation about mental health. They have worked to push through a mental health bill that will use funds amounting to $500,000 from their long-term capital outlay fund and a matched contribution from Tech administration.

When recommendations are made regarding where improvements need to be seen in the arena of mental health, SGA will begin to look at where they can start to take action. SGA has already passed legislation mirroring this sentiment.

Additionally, SGA is currently entrenched in the process of trying to procure a partnership with a ridesharing proposal. They are allowing services, such as Uber and Lyft, to place bids on the exclusive partnership, which will provide students discounted rates within a certain radius of campus.

Peramanu hopes that the process of setting this up would be concluded by the end of the semester and piloted in the spring.

Within academics, SGA is working to add a mental health resources section to each syllabus. “Minimesters,” 5-week, for-credit classes intended for students to learn a specific skills such as cooking or Excel, are in the works also.

Following Peramanu, was Wang’s spiel, which focused mainly on his work that has been done to revamp SGA’s internal organization.

“One of my big projects this semester is restructuring SGA and tailoring it to focus more on the students, instead of ourselves, and what we can do to serve the student body,” Wang said. “Ultimately that’s the purpose of our organization, but in the past we’ve been more stagnant and we have just been going through the motions. [Restructuring] is a big, long effort.”

Wang says that he has been having conversations with different campus stakeholders about how SGA can better serve them. The one or two-year process will focus on altering representation processes and covering topics that students care about.

The other project that Wang has been working on is getting Amazon’s Dots and Echos into every on-campus housing room. The devices would be provided free of charge from Amazon and will be piloted in one or two freshman dorms in the fall of 2018. The partnership offers opportunities for Amazon and Tech students.

“The reason why Amazon wants to do that is so that we can have internal, Georgia Tech developers working on the Dot’s capabilities,” said Peramanu. “Imagine that you can say, ‘Hey Alexa, when is the blue route coming to this route?’”

A question and answer session followed the pair’s discussion of the projects that they have been working on. Some additional topics covered were the upcoming mental health summit on Oct. 4, the ongoing and planned construction projects of the library, student center as well as a number of other buildings and some clarification on SGA’s plans for restructuring.