Every April upon our return from Spring Break, something about the Tech campus changes. The fraternities play music a little louder, pollen fills the air, it gets harder to study and the campaigning begins for SGA elections. Most importantly, about one quarter of the campus begins counting down the days until graduation. Especially for those walking across the stage and receiving degrees in 22 days, there is no doubt that the 2009-2010 school year has flown by.
On some levels it has been a year like any other. It is a year that began with FASET orientations and move-in, and one that will end with finals and Midnight Breakfast. It is a year in which Homecoming was celebrated and thermodynamics classes were still held. Most of us got a few parking tickets and freshmen still attended 8:00 a.m. calculus classes.
But more than any other time in Tech history, we should consider ourselves lucky to be students at Tech—above the normal, day-to-day life, it was truly a transformational year for the Institute. It was a year that began with the inauguration of a new Institute President, but was met with concerns about safety in off-campus neighborhoods. It was a year when the student body tore down a goalpost and our football team won the ACC Championship. We officially broke ground for the CULC, named two new Institute Deans, and dealt with unprecedented budget cuts.
I have been so honored to serve as your Student Body President over the past year. Above the late nights and early mornings, and the thousands of meetings (literally), serving as SGA President has been the most challenging and draining, yet exceptionally rewarding experience of my life. I am so grateful to all of the members of Student Government and the student body for their dedication to building a stronger Tech community. My goal for SGA has always been that we leave Tech a better place than we found it—and we have accomplished that.
For student government, it has been a strong year of building relationships with administrators, the Board of Regents and legislators. We involved the student body in discussions that were happening at the Institute level about topics such as safety and the strategic plan. We presented a Diversity White Paper, and elevated concerns about quality of faculty-student interaction. At the state-level, we managed to involve the student body in the concealed carry discussion, advocated for a fair and transparent distribution of mandatory fees, and participated in talks of budget cuts through a rally at the Capitol.
We worked to strengthen connections amongst students to Tech. We roped in the freshman class through the first-ever freshmen elections, and celebrated the start of a new school year through a Campus Welcome Back party and the second annual football White Out. Later, we established the first-ever GT Day at the Capitol and “1 Heart GT” Week.
We also tried to make life easier for students through passage of a new, stronger Dead Week policy, establishment of a Trolley stop at Publix, insurance of a close Wingnuts relocation, greater control of heating and cooling in freshmen dorms and revisions of the new athletic ticketing system (and an improved launch for next fall).
We tried to gain more student feedback to prioritize projects; we sought student opinion through surveys on dining, parking and transportation, Buzzport and online resources, and academics. We increased the transparency of SGA by launching a new website.
What you and I will both remember as Tech students are the late nights we spent with friends, the laughs we shared and the relationships we built. And for that, I will always be thankful to Tech and its students.
For those of you who will be here for another one, two… or five years, remember to never take your time for granted. Build relationships, establish roots, and be proud to be at Tech. And for all of you folks graduating on May 8—never forget where you learned more than you thought possible, what place you called home for 4+ years, and the answer to a simple question: What’s the good word?!?