Grad SGA solved, faces many issues on campus

Fellow graduate students,
This time of year brings with it the usual happenings including final projects, final exams and commencement, but the end of Spring also brings about a change in leadership within SGA. As the retiring Grad. SGA president, this time also brings the opportunity to look back at the tenure of my administration while expressing thoughts for the next and future administrations. Simply put, this year has seen explosive growth of Grad. SGA on multiple fronts. The Fall Picnic boasted an astounding attendance of 2100 people, the GT Research and Innovation Conference provided 400 students the opportunity to showcase their research and the Graduate Career Symposium provided 500 students the opportunity to build their knowledge on their career. A new collaboration between Tech and the Woodruff Arts Center was established offering students unlimited access to performances for $20 per year. In addition to the growth in programming, Grad. SGA experienced record numbers in representation within GSS, posting the highest levels in recent memory with 48 graduate students.
While the programming of Grad. SGA is often what is highlighted across campus, a number of other initiatives have shaped this year. In Feb., GSS passed a resolution expressing concern over the escalating cost of fees and the financial burden it places on the graduate population. Additionally, within our annual white paper presented to the administration, this was further highlighted with a formal statement sent to the Board of Regents regarding the Academic Excellence Fee, which is of greatest concern to the graduate body. Student health insurance has also been addressed with actions being taken this year for Tech to explore the idea of separating from the Board of Regents and finding a policy that best fits the graduate body of Tech. In the Fall, the Board of Governors was established to bring graduate groups together and connect them with each other. Additionally, this year, we worked to tackle the need to develop a robust financial and student organizations system to better serve the entire student body through a student competition capitalizing on the skill and programming talent of the Tech student community.
These highlighted events and initiatives represent the major happenings of Grad. SGA. For this entire year, a myriad of undertakings were completed in addition to those highlighted here. The requirements of the student legislature and the changing or adoption of policy proved to require attention throughout the year. Fiscal responsibility and the obligation of SGA to be good stewards of the Student Activity Fee came to realization through the establishment of the Fiscal Responsibility Committee, which has worked to identify ways to better manage and handle finances within SGA.
None of the service to the graduate body mentioned here would be possible without the dedication of the Grad. SGA Executive Board and the Graduate Senate. All of these individuals should be commended for their volunteerism to make the graduate experience at Tech more fulfilling. As the chief executive, I want to personally commend Grad. Exec. for their constant and selfless efforts: Kathy Schnure, James Black, Mihir Pathak, Arren Washington, Brandon Polander, Lauren Polander, Jason Okerman, Sean Dunn, Michael Ellis and Evan McClain. Supplementing this were partnerships with the administration on all levels that have allowed for this progress to come to fruition. The administration’s willingness to work tirelessly on student issues and genuinely listen to student concerns has been a valuable asset year round.
As we look to the future, a number of key issues remain ongoing. Next year will be a critical year regarding the student health insurance. The expansion on current programming and the responsibility of hosting these events will continue to provide challenges as well as rewards in the coming year. Communication across the graduate body remains a challenge and will require ingenuity and efforts to address it. As is true with all administrations of the past, Grad. SGA will continue to provide the graduate voice of the campus and work to provide opportunities to all graduate students. The newly elected administration brings experience and ideas that, in full confidence, I feel will rise to the challenge to address these issues and other unforeseen issues. I wish them all the best to a successful year and know they will continue in the tradition of a strong, active and involved Graduate Student Government.


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