I do not often get the chance to sit in on meetings of the UHR, and in many ways my knowledge of what the body does is similar to that of other students: they sit down for two hours, discuss organizations’ spending bills, vote, and then go home. However, while preparing to present a bill that would amend the way elections are run last week, I sat in on the discussion of the resolution that would eventually express the undergraduate student body’s disapproval of HB 615, the conceal and carry bill.
I saw the House acting as it ideally should. Representatives were truly deliberating, weighing the arguments of both sides of the debate, and appealing to the data which showed the student body’s opinion. Each time a representative got up to speak, he or she zeroed in on one question: what do our constituents want?
I could not help but smile through this, despite the gravity of the debate, because I could see each was doing the job for which he or she was elected one year ago. They were not acting as students; they were acting as the collective will of their constituencies. That is SGA at its finest.
In less than a month, on March 28, campaigning will begin for representatives and executive candidates. Signs will seemingly pop up out of nowhere, chapter and hall council meetings will hear candidates explain their positions and eventually the voters will go to the polls. Everything is ready, except for two key ingredients: the voters and the candidates.
Both come from the student body, and each group is equally important. Once campaigns begin, voters become the center of attention. It is their job to evaluate the candidates. They must remember that the people they elect to office will be spending several million dollars of students’ money and advocating for them; their choices should not be capricious.
Those who are eventually elected will get the chance to influence the way this campus grows and changes in a way few previous representatives have. The budget crisis in the state is already threatening to cause sweeping changes to the way we live and learn, and representatives are our strongest voices during this time. President Peterson’s administration is still in its infancy, and representatives will need to continue to let him know what students think. The strategic planning process, which will soon be complete, will also only be able to be implemented with input from SGA
Beyond the representative seats, two other offices are up for election. The Executive Vice President leads the Undergraduate House of Representatives. The Executive Vice President makes sure everything runs smoothly, and will be responsible for setting the tone of meetings, and also assisting the second executive candidate, the President.
The Undergraduate Student Body President is perhaps the most visible of all 16,000 undergraduates at Tech. He or she is our voice, our chief advocate to the administration, the Board of Regents, and the General Assembly. The candidates for this office will be running the most elaborate campaigns, but also the most substantive. Each deserves careful scrutiny from voters, fellow candidates and the Technique.
I say all of this, not as a description of who makes up SGA or what to expect after Spring Break, but as prelude to the following request to the student body: over the next month take an active interest in the future of this Institute. If you want to make a difference on campus, run for office. If you want to serve your major or your class, run for office. If you want to influence what happens over the next year at Tech, run for office. Applications are up at sga.gatech.edu/elections, and are due March 28 in the SGA office.
If you choose not to run for office, fulfill your duty as a member of the campus community and vote in SGA elections from April 9 – April 14. Pay attention during the campaigns, and make your choices carefully.
The student government at Tech only works because it is run by students who have the voices of thousands of their fellow students at their backs. This spring, decide to make one of those voices yours.