Action Teams Check in with Campus Community
Co-chairs of three action teams met with the Georgia Tech community yesterday, in an open forum designed to provide an update and respond to audience questions.
The action teams — focused on campus culture, mental health, and LGBTQIA community issues, respectively — were formed by President G.P. “Bud” Peterson last month. Reports from each team are anticipated by Nov. 1, and will be available to the public shortly thereafter.
Graduate Student Government Association President Skanda Prasad and Undergraduate SGA President Sujay Peramanu moderated the forum, which offered insight into each action team's process as they collect and synthesize the the campus community's feedback into a set of recommendations for Tech’s executive leadership to consider.
Speaking in a panel format, the student and faculty co-chairs articulated varied approaches, unified under a common theme of a more supportive campus climate.
In trying to quantify something as “nebulous” as campus culture, Bill Todd, a professor of the practice in the Scheller College of Business, said his committee is focused on the power of words, both “how they are heard by people in context and standing alone.” To that end, one of the approaches the committee's ap is taking is to use the Institute’s strategic plan as a framework for evaluating what opportunities may exist to further align strategy with culture.
“We’re looking for those points of friction, or event conflict,” between words and actions, he said.
The mental health co-chairs discussed a “fanning out” approach to solicit as much input as possible, both internally to identify recurring themes as well as outreach to review national best practices for mental health support on the college campus. At the same time, panelists underscored an awareness of the overlapping nature of their collective assignment.
“We recognize that the action teams have intersections,” said Psychology Professor Jenny Singleton, who co-chairs the team. She noted that “we’re hearing some of the same themes” as colleagues on other teams and suggested that the co-chairs would benefit from coming together as part of the reporting process.
Undergraduate Calvin Runnels said feedback from the community has led the LGBTQIA committee to focus on four areas of emphasis for its recommendations: campus facilities, community resource center, health and legal resources, and education.
“We’re looking at what we have right now, how do we think it can be improved, and what is possible to change,” he said.
Audience questions tilted toward process: how action team members were selected or how information was being shared within and across teams. Others articulated a hope that changes would contribute to an environment that helps “restore some of the sense of safety that has been lost.”
In response to a question about whether the action teams would continue working beyond the term of service, one panelist said that her commitment to meaningful change would not end once the reports are delivered.
“Almost everyone on these action teams was chosen because these were issues they were already interested in and passionate about,” said Emily Hale, an aerospace engineering undergraduate. “Once the reports are passed over we’re still going to be here, we’re still going to be caring, we’re still going to want things to improve.”
Each of the action teams is accepting feedback. For more information, visit: http://www.president.gatech.edu/path-forward-together