New Grad SGA Leadership on Goals and Challenges for the Future
Achieve financial security for graduate students. Support student organizations. These are just a couple of the initiatives set forth by the Graduate Student Government Association’s (Grad SGA) new leadership.
Following an emergency election in August, two Georgia Tech graduate student leaders have since hit the ground running in their newly elected leadership roles with Grad SGA.
Will Reichard, president, and Michelle Reckner, executive vice president, received 70% of the total votes becoming the official voices of the graduate student body to the faculty, administration, staff, and others inside the Georgia Tech community.
According to Reichard, he decided to run for president of Grad SGA because “I’ve seen Grad SGA’s capacity to affect positive change in the student experience,” said Reichard. “I believe that it is essential to have a well-functioning student government that can effectively advocate for the student body. Michelle and I hope to return the focus of Grad SGA to the issues affecting graduate students.”
After serving as secretary of the Graduate Society of Women Engineering at Tech, Reckner noticed how students and campus organizations struggled after the Covid-19 shutdown.
“I have seen my friends go through financial hardships and advising struggles and wished there was more I could do,” said Reckner. “Will approached me about running, and it felt like the perfect opportunity to make Tech better.”
Recruiting Dedicated and Capable Student Leaders
As the newly elected Grad SGA leaders, Reichard and Reckner’s first order of duty is to recruit student leaders to get involved with Grad SGA.
“First and foremost, Grad SGA needs to have a deep roster of dedicated and capable student leaders, and we are in the process of filling vacancies within all three branches of government,” they said.
As they are working on recruiting student leaders, Grad SGA is also analyzing their governing documents.
“We anticipate that we will be discussing and debating substantial changes to our constitution, bylaws, and election code this semester,” they said. “We have also established committees to discuss academic and research affairs and research-advisor relationships. These committees are still in the very early stages of discussing their issues, but they will continue to develop and make progress throughout the year.”
Financial Security for Graduate Students
During the Grad SGA elections, the duo ran on a platform focused on financial security for graduate students.
“The cost of living in Atlanta has skyrocketed over the recent years,” they said. “Combined with low stipend rates, graduate students are struggling to afford to live in Atlanta. Stipend rates are a consistent issue that many graduate student governments before us have worked towards increasing. We are working towards increasing rates as well.”
In addition to increasing stipend rates, Grad SGA is also looking into affordable housing solutions and bus system expansion for the students who need to live far from campus. Tech’s enrollment growth has increased demand for housing near campus. The two foresee this growth will come with its share of challenges in the future.
“Georgia Tech’s enrollment has grown substantially over the last 10 years, and we plan on continuing that trend for the next 10 years,” they said. “This is a great thing."
"Georgia Tech is an amazing place, and we should strive to open our doors to as many of the best and brightest students as we possibly can."
"However, enrollment growth is going to come with some growing pains that will need to be addressed. There currently are not enough housing units available on or near campus, which will contribute to increased housing prices near campus and displacement of current residents. This will be the largest issue affecting Georgia Tech students over the next five to 10 years.”
Student Organization Support and Collaboration
Student organization support was also a key point of Reichard and Reckner’s election campaign.
“The value of having strong student communities on campus cannot be overstated, but many of our campus communities are still dealing with the after-effects of Covid-19 and social distancing,” they said. “Grad SGA can play an important role in helping student organizations re-establish their footing.”
According to the two, this in part means improving their communication and collaboration with the student body.
“I have reached out to several registered student organizations comprised primarily of graduate students and have had the opportunity to meet with several of their officer boards to discuss the specific issues facing their respective organizations,” said Reichard. “I’ll continue to do so throughout my term, and I hope that future Grad SGA presidents continue this tradition.”
Reichard and Reckner would also like to meet with other student groups.
“We would like to organize meetings between Grad SGA and each of the department groups to help disseminate information more effectively with the added benefit of encouraging coordination and collaboration between department-level student advocacy,” they said.
Open communication between graduate and undergraduate SGA can also benefit the student body at Tech.
“There are a ton of common issues shared between undergraduate and graduate students,” they said. “There are many occasions where it’s helpful to coordinate our efforts and speak with one voice.”
As for communication and collaboration with administration, “Grad SGA has good collaborative relationships with President Cabrera and the rest of the administration, which allows us to ensure that graduate student needs and perspectives are accounted for in decision-making and planning,” they said.
“Ultimately, Grad SGA and the administration have the same goals. We both want Georgia Tech to remain one of the absolute best public universities in the world, and we both want to support our students as much as possible.”
The Mission of Grad SGA
According to the two, their overarching goal is to ensure that Grad SGA can effectively advocate for students’ needs and perspectives.
“Grad SGA is tasked with representing the needs of over 20,000 students,” said Reckner. “We try our best to help with the issues we come across, but if there is anything you feel we are missing, do not hesitate to reach out. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Reichard encourages everyone to involve themselves in a student organization at Tech.
“I truly believe that our student groups are what make our campus special. If you are interested in potentially being involved with Grad SGA, you can email email@example.com and we can chat.”
- Workflow Status: Published
- Created By: Sara Franc
- Created: 10/28/2022
- Modified By: Sara Franc
- Modified: 11/30/2022