Students Encouraged to Run for Office
SGA Election Applications Now Open for 2019–20
Elected representatives are essential players in community change — including at the college level. This month, students are encouraged to consider running for a position within the Student Government Association (SGA), which has opened applications for both its Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) and its presidential ticket.
UHR is made up of around 50 members representing each school and class level at Georgia Tech, as well as cohorts such as co-op and transfer students. They are tasked with attending weekly UHR meetings and representing their constituents — whether it’s from their major or their class — within SGA processes and responsibilities.
That includes passing bills that fund student activities across campus — SGA distributes a budget of around $3.5 million funded by the Student Activity Fee — ranging from large-scale events to one-off endeavors, all of which are part of campus life for Tech students.
Kelly O’Neal, a sophomore representative and business administration major, had no prior student government experience when she got to Tech. After getting involved in FreShGA, a first-year leadership organization tied to SGA, she ran for sophomore representative at the end of the year.
“I try to be sure that when I’m acting in a role that’s speaking on behalf of the entire student body, I’m doing my best to know where my constituents stand,” she said.
Though SGA representatives use social media, office hours, and word of mouth to get input from students, O’Neal acknowledged that it’s a challenge. One channel that’s been particularly helpful this year is the Georgia Tech subreddit community.
In addition to being a sophomore rep, O’Neal is also part of SGA’s public relations committee and is the voice of GT_SGA on reddit. She’s proud of the progress she’s made in managing the account and talking with students there.
“I want to make people feel more comfortable with SGA and with Tech administrators,” she said. One success story this year was in listening to a student’s request to add baked potatoes as a staple in campus dining halls. It’s a small change that’s part of a larger effort to offer more vegetarian options.
O’Neal plans to stay involved in SGA next year, and encouraged others to run for office.
“The best part has been the people you meet — both in SGA and in meeting other students who are your constituents,” she said. “If you run, even if you don’t get the position you initially run for, there are lots of ways to get involved and you’ll find another role that’s great.”
Those who apply for UHR representatives or presidential positions must be able to attend a required orientation session on Friday, Feb. 22.
That is also the last day students can apply. Campaigning will take place from Feb. 24 to March 15, and elections will run concurrently the week of March 8–15. All students are encouraged to vote when the time comes. Election results will be announced on March 15.