Student Government Association executive review

The number of bills submitted by fiscal year almost doubled between this year and last year; over a million dollars were allocated to fulfilling the funding demands of student organizations on campus this year with an increase of almost $600K. // Design by Rahul Deshpande Student Publications

Another semester has come to a close, and with it, Tech’s Student Government Association (SGA) has released their biannual cabinet executive review. This report is a culmination of the work done by SGA’s undergraduate executive cabinet for the summer and fall semesters of 2022, listing the actions and endeavors of each cabinet member, in addition to some goals each cabinet member has for their position for the upcoming semester. The full report was sent to the student body via email on Dec. 19, but a brief summary of some of SGA’s projects can be found below, as is typical for the Technique to publish each year.

The first on the cabinet list is Rohan Sohani, undergraduate president. Sohani’s first initiative was changes made to the Registered Student Organization (RSO) finance system, referring to the system student organizations use to receive funding via bills. Traditionally, this process has been handled by SGA, with the passage of bills being led by the Joint Vice President of Finance. 

However, students have complained in the past of a slow, backlogged process that made it challenging to receive funding through bill allocation. This past year, Sohani signed an executive order reallocating this responsibility to the Student Organizations Finance Office (SOFO), a part of the finance wing of the Institute. This was a large change to the process, as it officially moved responsibility of student organization funding from the student body, through SGA, to the Institute, through SOFO. 

SGA’s reasoning for this move is to help both student organizations and SGA, stating that the new process has “relieved students from the burden of having to review bills and has made the RSO funding process more efficient.”

Sohani also advocated for academic changes, such as helping move the Institute toward a more easily attainable eight-semester graduation rate, enacting an SAT/ACT optional admissions policy and working towards having transfer students receive their own “dedicated space in on-campus housing that allows for clustered groups.” Sohani’s stated goals for the spring semester are to “ensure that [the] Student Activity Fee has longevity for the next 10 years through policy changes and advocate to USG for a fee increase,” “ensure SEWB [Student Engagement and Well-Being] follows through on commitment to house more students on campus affordably” and “collaborate with the [Joint Vice President of Information Technology] to facilitate roll-out of the Career Fair app aimed to address long lines at the career fair.”

The next person included in the executive review is Grace Swift, the executive vice president of undergraduate SGA. Swift’s initiatives include improvements to study abroad programs and experiences, which include advocating for changes to the academic side of GT Lorraine, now GT Europe, to ease the process of traveling during study abroad while still maintaining academic rigor. Additionally, she also advocated for the hire of permanent on-staff mental health professionals at Institute study abroad locations and making progress towards a gym being built on site at GT Europe. 

Swift also continued to expand the STAR Crisis Housing program, an initiative that works to provide accommodations to students in dire need of housing due to extenuating circumstances. Swift met with former crisis housing recipients to find proposed changes, and advocated on their behalf to help improve the housing conditions. 

Building on this, Swift “created an emergency fund for students to receive a no-strings-attached grant in times of crisis or need.” This should be rolled out in early spring 2023.  Swift’s new goals for the spring semester are to “finalize SGA Emergency Fund and promote to students,” “decorate and finalize STAR Crisis Housing expansion” and “ensure food insecurity programs reach all students who need them.”

The review covered Maxwell Oglesby, Joint Vice President of Finance, next. Oglesby began by reporting bill allocation numbers, noting that $1,094,330.73 were allocated to student organizations this year, as compared to $590,000 last year, an increase of over $500,000 from the previous year. As for budgets, 98 were submitted, totalling to $2.8 million in requested funds for next year. 

Oglesby went on to state that he requested a $5 increase to the Student Activity Fee (SAF), as well as amended the RSO policy to, “ensure SAF funding is equitably distributed amongst RSOs.”

Oglesby’s stated goals for 2023 were to “improve information resources to make the SAF more accessible for RSOs,” “explore using Engage as the source for all RSOs to request and obtain funding,” “improve employee experience within the Student Organization Finance Office, make the process of obtaining reimbursements and checks easier for RSOs,” “continue advocating for an alternative funding source where Engineering RSOs can obtain funding” and “send [Joint Finance Committee] members to RSOs to hear their issues and educate them on financial resources.”

The Joint Vice President of Information Technology, Megan Dass, covered her achievements next, which included starting the process of creating a new Career Fair app in conjunction with the Career Center to help students stand in a virtual queue instead of physically in line. 

Dass also lead internal restructuring changes, where she “created three Director roles who serve liaison between the three teams they directly oversee and the JVP IT, leading to long-term increased productivity and efficiency among teams.” 

Dass’ spring 2023 goals include deploying JacketPages, the Career Fair App and the Office Hours App, and to “work with OIT to establish IT Student Job Fair on campus,” “create a GT 1000 module introducing the Microsoft Suite to students” and “restart the IT Ethics team to advocate for a greater emphasis for student data privacy on campus.”

Grace Pietkiewicz, the Joint Vice President of Sustainability and Infrastructure, worked on Greek Goes Green, where she, “designed a comprehensive sustainability award system to target key areas of environmental responsibility in the Greek community. Targets include offering reusable late-plates, recycling, and environmental-focused volunteering. To be implemented within the Interfraternity Council and the Collegiate Panhellenic Council in their spring awards cycle.” 

Pietkiewicz also worked to improve campus safety, where she “set a standing Campus Sustainability Action Team, with representatives from Student Government, the Georgia Tech Police Department, the Office of Infrastructure & Sustainability, Campus Services, Parking and Transportation Services, Capital Planning & Space Management, and Faculty Governance”, “reviewed results from the 2021 Campus Safety Plans and discussed implementation actions and future needs. Reviewed the Ferst Drive Plan and East Campus Plan to ensure that new construction identifies safety issues identified in the Campus Safety walk” and “met with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to discuss broader city safety needs, share the Campus Safety Walk, and learn about implementing a GDOT sponsored campus safety event.” Pietkiewicz also worked on the Climate Action Plan, establishing a presence on the team and helping to facilitate meetings between a planning consultant and student organization leaders.

For 2023, Pietkiewicz plans to help design a meaningful Earth Week, organize a campus safety walk to review campus safety, work on the Green Career Fair and help to establish a campus safety event to encourage safe riding practices on cars, bikes, scooters and skateboards.

Aanjan Sikal, Vice President of Academic Affairs, worked to secure funding for two Iris Professional Headshot booths for the Institute community. These booths take free, instantaneous headshots for those who use them, and will be stationed in the Career Center and Student Center/Undergraduate Learning Commons. Sikal also helped initiate an eight-semester graduation rate analysis, and continued “the conversation with regards to how Georgia Tech plans to improve its 8-semester graduation rate.” 

Sikal’s spring goals include to “continue both the work of the Registration Task Force for implementing practices for Fall 2023” and “flush out the agenda for QEP with appropriate office,” as well as “analyze college policies to ensure fair and transparent practices — grading and otherwise — across the Institute.”

The Vice President of Campus Services, Amogh Gadekar, worked with dining “to improve late-night food options by collecting relevant data on student preferences and advocating for expanded hours and more options.” Gadekar also worked in Tech Square to help expand the offerings, including advocating for RoundTrip Brewing Company to fill the Canteen’s vacant

location; this effort was unsuccessful. Gadekar also worked to decrease the price of non-prescription Plan B to 40% below market prices via subsidies, and will move the PharmaBox from West Village to the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons. 

The Vice President of Communications, Anokhi Patel, maintained the monthly newsletter, including reformatting it “to get important information out on social media as well as through traditional email platforms.” Patel also helped maintain a social media presence, as well as redesigned the official SGA logo. 

Patel’s spring goals include “switching to a new platform for newsletters and mass email communications that is more interactive for viewers and easier to use and customize for creators,” “highlighting more SGA resources and campus-wide resources available to students and faculty,” “creating better methods of communication between the Executive branch and Legislative to highlight initiatives from all branches, not just the Executive” and to “increase student following and engagement with our social media platforms, especially Instagram” and “increase connections between SGA and RSOs beyond our efforts this Fall.”

Katie Marchese, Vice President of External Affairs, worked to increase voting advocacy by increasing accessibility to the polls. For the general election, she “set up a bus that ran to the nearest polling location” and “tabled for

four days to promote” the Ferst Center being a temporary early voting location. She did similar work for the runoff election and also distributed resources for students to be better educated about the candidates. Marchese also facilitated GA Sen. Sonya Halpern coming to campus to speak to a group of students about “the importance of civic engagement and local politics”. 

In addition, she worked to create a multitude of community events such as the Community Farm Service Days, Community Fridge Packing Day, and Community Arts Fair. In Spring 2023, she hopes to “host another speaker event with the Atlanta or Fulton County commission,” create more options for community service, inform students about state-wide politics, and host another arts fair.

Julia Johnson, Vice President of Well-Being, oversaw a variety of projects covering many topics related to different aspects of the well-being of the student body. One of the projects she worked on was advocating for the reinstatement of policies to mitigate COVID-19 spread and hosting a town hall to allow students to speak with the administration about concerns they had with existing policies. In addition, she championed the COVID-19 PPE Distribution program and assembled and disseminated around 1,000 kits with disposable and cloth masks and hand sanitizers throughout campus. Within the realm of the Menstrual Product Program, she confirmed the institutionalization and expansion of the existing program present in campus restrooms.  In another vein, she partnered with Title IX  authorities to plan public town halls for the spring semester and also compiled research on the advantages and pitfalls of mental health peer helplines. 

In the future, she hopes to partner with organizations that are off-campus to promote more harm reduction services, distribute more sustainable menstrual products, and continue to revitalize the existing Mental Health Network.

Kemuel Russell is the Vice President of Student Life. Throughout the past year, he has worked on a variety of projects to improve student life on campus. He worked with the Institute’s Communication Department on the student banner project which featured cultural student organization leaders on banners around campus. In addition, he worked with the Institute’s Center for Student Engagement to ensure that Black Student Organizations had access to storage units for miscellaneous equipment. Another event that Russell worked on is Wreckcon, which will be held in February 2023. Wreckcon is a Tech-specific convention that will feature various student organizations and other guests. With an expected attendance of 1000 students, the event is predicted to be a multi-media, pop culture convention exploring a variety of topics. Russell also worked to support student muralists, by working with the Arts Chair to pilot student murals service which allowed student artists to be connected with mural requests from departments and organizations; some of these murals that are in progress are the STAR Crisis Housing and Tech Wesley. 

Looking to the future, he wants to work with Tech Athletics to plan a movie night in

Bobby Dodd and create an interactive art display that would allow students to contribute to the art on Tech’s campus.

Carter Haidusek, the Vice President of Operations, oversees two SGA committees: Special Events and Internal Operations. Throughout the summer and fall of 2022, he focused on four major projects. The first event he oversaw was the Executive Cabinet Retreat where the cabinet was able to plan Cabinet priorities for the upcoming year and participate in team-building activities. Next, he oversaw the actual committee member application process for Executive Committees and set up methods of communication and organization after they were selected. In addition, he facilitated the movement of the Student Government Office to the Student Center by reorganizing, unpacking and ordering office supplies for the space. Finally, he planned SGA Week to celebrate the 100th anniversary. This included events such as Executive Branch Day, Mental Health & Well-Being Day, and UHR & UJC Day. 

Moving into the next semester, Haidusek aims to restructure how committee chairs and members are recruited, continue to work on the compilation of a virtual scrapbook,  allow for easier transitions between Executive Cabinet and committee chairs and also organize the SGA Banquet.