Student Leaders Host Town Hall on Return to Campus, Advocacy Initiatives
On July 22, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a virtual town hall to address the return to campus and other SGA advocacy initiatives. Panelists included leaders from both the undergraduate and graduate SGAs, as well as the Residence Hall Association and International Ambassadors.
The majority of questions focused on academic affairs, student life, and general health and safety. Other topics included housing and campus services, student organizations, international students, and the responses of Georgia Tech and University System of Georgia (USG) as a whole.
Many students expressed concerns about how hybrid courses will operate. For in-person class days, assigned seating will be implemented so that students can know how close they were to someone in their class who might test positive for Covid-19. For more specific information about how each hybrid class will operate, panelists encouraged students to reach out to their professors. SGA is also currently advocating for students to be given the option to take all of their courses remotely without having to apply for accommodations through the Office of Disability Services.
Georgia Tech is in the midst of code review for a contact tracing app developed at Carnegie Mellon University. A version of the app will then be tailored specifically to Georgia Tech, and all students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to download it upon returning to campus.
SGA leaders also highlighted the organization’s advocacy issues in regard to racial justice, supporting the LGBTQIA community, and sexual assault. SGA is currently working with the LGBTQIA Resource Center to find a safe way to celebrate pride month, which is usually held in October in Atlanta. SGA is also continuing to be involved in conversations about race, as well as finding ways to help identify systemic racism and ameliorate it on Georgia Tech’s campus. Finally, the group recently released a letter in conjunction with other USG student government organizations asking each school to hold itself to a higher standard than what is currently in place following the U.S. Department of Education’s recent changes to Title IX.
The panelists encouraged students to help build a culture of safety on campus by abiding by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health guidelines.
“If you see someone not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, speak up,” said Mykala Sinclair, vice president of student life for SGA. “Coming back to campus safely is going to take each and every one of us.”
SGA asked that students continue to reach out to them with questions or concerns. Students can email email@example.com with coronavirus-specific concerns; all emails sent there will be forwarded to those in an appropriate position to respond.
“Make sure that the people in power continue to hear you, including us,” said Lea Harris, president of graduate SGA. “Take pride in pressuring people to be safe.”
“You have a lot of agency in your voice,” added Kyle Smith, executive vice president for undergraduate SGA. “Don’t let anyone distract you from that, because this moment requires that we all use our voices.”
A recording of the full town hall, as well as a list of the questions and answers, can be found here.