As is customary for the Student Government Association (SGA) following the conclusion of a semester, an executive review has been released publicly for the student body to view. This document, which has been released bi-yearly for the student body for many years, is intended to shed light on all of the activities of SGA in the hopes of encouraging transparency and accountability between SGA and its constituents.
This edition marks the first review from the new undergraduate administration, led by SGA President Samuel Ellis and Vice President Ajanta Choudhury, and it highlights their various accomplishments for the summer and fall semesters of 2021. As a result, students are free to peruse a number of activities which have been pursued and accomplished by SGA President Ellis. Some noticeable achievements have been continuing to host on-campus polling locations for students to involve themselves in politics, most recently with the Atlanta Mayoral elections, creating a student needs committee in order to assist student who may be struggling financially with classroom costs and tuition and advocating for changes in the structure and processes of the Office of Student integrity (OSI) in order to allow for an easier, more streamlined process for those students who find themselves associated with the department. Ellis has also been instrumental in the formation of a COVID-19 recovery task force.
The goal of this task force is, as stated in the executive review, to “provide weekly critical student updates to the task force about student life, campus services, on campus COVID-19 testing, and preparation for the Spring 2021 semester, advocate for professor accommodations for ill students, [and] partner with GT Athletics to provide vaccine incentives at the McCamish Pavilion vaccine clinic.” All of these tasks were pursued this year, with the benefit of further pushing the Institute towards a pre-COVID-19 level of normalcy on campus.
The Office of the Executive Vice President, led by Vice President Choudhury, also worked on a number of tasks in order to increase quality of life for students. These tasks include the Menstrual Product Program, with the goal of working towards providing free menstrual products for all Tech Students, working with the Naugle Comm lab in order to continue to have an English Learning specialist on hand for the foreseeable future funded by the Institute, and collaborating with the Undergraduate house of representatives in order to determine the best path towards identifying ways in which SGA can support the student body.
For context, SGA has historically struggled with serving every portion of the student body and in the past, has been accused of only serving certain portions of the student, with specific emphasis placed on Greek life organizations.
With this campus accessibility project, however, SGA hopes to identify ways in which it can provide equal amounts of support, funding, and resources to all student organizations on campus and, in so doing, more completely follow their mission “to empower student organizations, embody student opinions, preserve student integrity, and enrich the student experience.”
For financial operations, SGA released their funding numbers, detailing that, for this fiscal cycle, SGA allocated a total of $590,622.19. This is up significantly from last year, when they allocated $488,782.03, reflecting the increasing size of the Institute, allowing for larger amounts of student fees to provide funding for SGA.
For the future, the financial office plans to work towards transitioning to Engage, or a similar platform, in order to streamline the process of funding requests and dispersion, as well as advocate for the formalization of resources for housing insecure students.
The information technology board continued work on Buzzbook, a resource which helps make old syllabi for classes at the Institute publicly available for students to view in order to assist in their registration for classes.
While it has not gone live online as of yet, the board plans to continue work on it, and is aiming to have it out as soon as possible.
The technology board has also continued to streamline course critique, adding some syllabus and Oscar description features, as well as some backend functionality improvements to assist students. The Sustainability and Infrastructure bill has also been quite busy, notably participating on the NEXT task force “to research and develop sustainability goals for the Institute Strategic Plan.”
Their participation in this task force was in the interest of letting the needs and desire of the student body be known to the administration of the Institute.
The board also has worked on residence hall recycling program to encourage recycling amongst students living in on campus residence halls, and with the Greek goes Green initiative, a project designed to help push Greek life towards a more sustainable path. The external affairs board notably worked on the USG chancellor’s advocacy program. This stemmed from the appointment of a new chancellor of USG this past summer, and the subsequent disapproval of the process by the SGA board. In the words of the head of the board of external affairs, Grace Swift, “This [The chancellor selection] process began to be politicized, so we wrote a letter opposing the politicization of the process and stressing that the process needed to be merit-based in order to maintain our reputation and accreditation.”
The external affairs board also worked on the community fridge project, which has described itself as a grassroots effort to combat food insecurity in Atlanta.
The board worked on finding a permanent location for it, culminating in Grace House volunteering for the responsibility.
The Undergraduate House of Representatives also was successful in passing a multitude of bills for the betterment of the Tech community, including the creation of a GT Hawks night, the approval of the Electrify GT goals as a backing for the SGA, and creating a resolution on USG’s board of regents decision to alter the tenure process.
Overall, SGA has definitely attempted to accomplish a multitude of its stated goals this semester and is looking forward to a productive fiscal cycle this upcoming spring.