Students’ roles working with SGA

The current elected undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) officials Brielle Lonsberry and Kyle Smith took office during an extremely unprecedented time last spring and despite that, have still managed to make great strides within the Tech community. In a time when transparency was needed most, they were there to bridge the gap between SGA and the rest of Tech’s student body.

During times of inevitable speculation, this administration made sure to set the record straight and provide concrete facts instead of tip-toeing around important issues. Whether it was advocating for Black lives or international students, this administration showed up for the Tech community.

Although the platform that Brielle and Kyle ran on past spring was not fully fulfilled, it is more than reasonable for them to have turned their attention to combatting COVID-19. A few of the major issues they planned to tackle were further implementing minimester, integrating mental health curriculum into GT 1000/2000 courses and launching the Menstrual Product Plan.

We recognize that other failed initiatives having to do with transportation may have also become secondary due to the mere fact that there are fewer people using the service because of COVID-19.

One specific initiative that SGA deserves to be commended for is their involvement in the “Wreck the Vote” campaign that served nearly 2,000 voters at McCamish Pavillion. They ensured that this polling place was entirely run by student poll workers and lead by SGA’s Vice President of External Affairs. Likewise, SGA’s involvement with the “Jackets Protect Jackets” program, where members handed out thousands of personal protective equipment kits the first week of school, left a notable imprint on students.

SGA President, Brielle Lonsberry, should be recognized for her spearheading of the Sexual Violence Advisory Committee and advocating for Title IX after the Department of Education brought forth reforms to sexual assault complaint procedures. This committee then partnered with other Student Government Associations within the USG system to back a Title IX reform that “prioritizes the mental health and well-being of survivors.”

Lonsberry was also responsible for leading surveys and focus groups pertaining to safely returning to campus in the fall. Moreover, she led and moderated town hall meetings that discussed pertinent issues like the rising of COVID-19 cases. After the Department of Homeland Security ruled to restrict international student’s visa lengths, Lonsberry advocated against it and wrote to senators Loeffler and Purdue.

Executive Vice President, Kyle Smith, was a student member of the Health and Safety Task Force and also met with President Cabrera over the summer to discuss students’ needs and concerns prior to returning to campus.

In June of last year, Smith also helped compose a statement with the Graduate SGA that backed the Black Lives Matter movement. Likewise, Smith was also behind efforts to reform GTPD and allow students to be involved in the interview process of potential GTPD candidates. He has presented GTPD with outreach approaches that will better serve all Tech students. Although we are quite pleased with all these efforts made and all their other contributions as well, there are still changes that need to be made. We believe that implementing mental health into GT 1000/2000 courses is crucial. Additionally, the Menstrual Product Plan should be more widespread than ten residence hall bathrooms. We would also like to see a push for more inclusive housing options for transgender and non-binary students.

This past year, Brielle and Kyle have had to lead us through numerous world events, but have managed to still run a transparent and successful administration. We believe that because of their leadership this school year has gone much smoother than expected.