As Georgia State community faces challenges, SGA pushes for them to be heard

Saturday, Georgia State’s Student Government Association issued a press release following the protest in Atlanta on May 30 in response to the death of George Floyd. 

The beginning of the post summarizes what happened to both Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. It also includes George Floyd’s initial autopsy results as well as the initial charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Sunday, a second press release by Atlanta Communications Director Alldon Thompson went live to clarify their use of the initial autopsy in Saturday’s press release after receiving backlash.

“We want all of our students to understand the autopsy was broadcasted by all news networks, and that we want our students to have full transparency concerning the matter,” Thompson said in the post.

The contents of Sunday’s post have since been moved to the caption of Saturday’s post.

“The senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and the events that unfolded late last night on the Atlanta campus have sparked discussions from university officials and student leaders,” the press release states.

SGA has decided to hold live rallies to begin finding solutions and to support the students at Georgia State. 

“I think that the Georgia State community wants to be heard more than anything,” Thomas said.

Thomas mentioned that some parts of the university — President Becker’s Town Hall and the community conversations held by the Dean of Students and the Multicultural Center — are a great place to start. 

The live rallies will be held through a Zoom call and the link will be located on all SGA social media platforms.

“I want to make sure that we are really [opening] a form for students to show their concerns to us and suggest ideas for how we should be moving forward,” Thomas said. “That’s really where the idea for a live rally came from and that’s what we want to do essentially. We don’t have all the answers, but together we can find them.”

During the first live rally, SGA plans on announcing their “Share Your Story” campaign where students can submit stories that can be shared during the live rally or through social media posts following the event.

“There are a lot of stories out there that need to be heard and students will want their voices to be heard, especially now more than ever,” Thomas said.

The campaign is also an extension of Thomas’s letter addressing sexual assault in the Georgia State community that was shared on Wednesday. The campaign will allow students to share their personal stories about both sexual assault and racial injustice.

The letter also announced that SGA will be launching an investigation through a third-party about allegations of sexual assault throughout the entire Georgia State community — students, clubs, organizations, faculty and staff.

Tuesday, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Wendy Hensel sent out an email to the Georgia State community announcing the creation of a task force “to develop a series of roundtable discussions and virtual forums to give voice to the history and challenges of the current racial protests and related issues.”

Thomas said that he’d like to see the task force look into creating a way to hold Georgia State University Police Department officers accountable as well. 

“Right now, they handle all things through internal affairs but I think we’re seeing that right now and across the country, we can longer just let the police, police themselves,” Thomas said. “We are going to be raising those questions and we are going to be figuring out how we can hold those police officers accountable.”

The SGA University-Wide Executive committee met today to discuss calling a Special Session for the University-Wide Senate to meet this month and talk about the creation of a Student Justice Committee. 

According to the press release, the committee will focus on “student proposals and activism.”