A fresh group of leaders are preparing to serve the student body following the conclusion of the Student Government Association (SGA) elections on March 17, just before the start of spring break. The majority of the candidates ran unopposed, but all officers still ran on ambitious platforms with plans to execute them in the upcoming term.
The elected students will officially step into their roles when they get sworn in at the SGA banquet on April 13. Until then, they will work with the outgoing officers to prepare for the role and become equipped to continue working on the initiatives of their predecessors. Aanjan Sikal and Harrison Baro will succeed the current president, Rohan Sohani, and vice president,
Grace Swift, respectively.
“This transition is not new to me,” Sikal said, “because [Rohan] transitioned me into the VP of Academic Affairs last year. SGA works best when its initiatives can be passed down from year to year. We want to make sure when someone comes in and they advocate for something that their work is still representative of the student body and is still passed down from year to year. We want to emphasize that in our transition.”
In addition to the transition process, Sikal and Baro plan to execute the goals emphasized through their campaign — the first of which is to establish a diverse Executive Cabinet. The SGA Executive Cabinet consists of 10 vice presidents that advocate for various elements of student success.
Cabinet positions are open to the student body, and they encourage students to view the application and additional information regarding the Cabinet at gatech.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cYkt7icoN7QrjxQ.
“We really want to establish a diverse cabinet … because, if we have that in place, then we will be able to effectively advocate for the student body regardless of the issue that comes up. It is really important to address that first,” Sikal said.
As vice president, Baro intends to advocate for student infrastructure issues such as housing and dining availability and sustainability initiatives. He aims to complete the work of his predecessor in launching an emergency fund for students this fall and working with Tech Dining to establish a late-night dining option on campus.
The team also plans to leverage Baro’s experience as speaker of the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) to tackle communication issues that SGA has faced in the past, unifying the voice of the organization for the students.
“I do see somewhat of a disconnect between the legislative branch and the executive branch,” Baro said. “Each branch works very efficiently, but when we need to collaborate, there may be some friction. The SGA retreat did not happen in the fall, which is supposed to produce vital meeting time between the two branches, and we really want to make sure that happens this year to create a community out of SGA rather than an extracurricular activity.”
The new term will also welcome a suite of class and major representatives to the UHR. After they are sworn in, the representatives will elect a new speaker to succeed Baro. The representative-elects look forward to carrying out the ideas from their diligent campaigns. Chase Pettiford is a second-year student under the School of Biological Sciences (BIOS), and students in the school have elected her to represent them. In her term, she seeks to advocate for students who may get the “short end of the stick” and encourages them to reach out to her for adequate representation.
“Sometimes it feels like initiatives are catered towards engineering and computer science students,” she said, “but we also have a voice. During my term, I hope to bring forth the perspectives of BIOS students and amplify their voices.” Noah Pastula is a first-year ME student elected as one of the incoming sophomore class representatives. The sophomore ticket was the most contested, featuring six aspiring candidates and only allowing four victors. After a diligent campaign, Pastula is optimistic about the next term and looks forward to inspiring effective student advocacy with his fellow representatives.
“I hope to increase the liberties of student organizations and revise past bylaws and policies so they work better for us today. The other reps have brilliant ideas, and we all have different skill sets which can work in tandem to make the class feel heard. I am looking forward to a successful year ahead filled with positive change,” he said.
Moreover, it is important to acknowledge all of the aspiring candidates who ran for an SGA position and their dedication to serving the student body. The Tech community looks forward to seeing the positive impact that the new student leaders will have on the Institute in the coming term.
Students can find more information and the full election results at sga.gatech.edu/elections.