Atlanta senators meet last time before elections — rec center, coronavirus and SGA budget

The Atlanta SGA Senate discusses the growing concerns of the COVID-19 spread and the resources that the university is implementing. Photo by Richard Dailey | The Signal

The last Student Government Association Atlanta Senate meeting before the SGA elections was held Thursday.

Speaker Pro Tempore Terry Fye began the meeting with only 11 senators present. At the time, the senate did not meet the quorum.

“No official and binding votes can be taken at any session when a quorum is not present,” the SGA bylaws state.

The quorum for the SGA Atlanta Senate meetings currently requires the presence of 13 members. Two minutes into the meeting, the senate was able to meet quorum.

Timber Hines, director of Recreational Services, came to speak to the senate.

“I hope that not only will you be involved, but if you could help us with just continuing to spread the word [about] the programs and services that are available to all of the students,” Hines said.

Hines informed the senate that there were almost 800,000 entries into the Recreation Center last year; 92% of those entries were students. 

She also mentioned the Georgia State Recreation app.

“We do have an app that students can download that shows all of the information that’s in the Recreation Wrap Up ,as well as our schedules, policies and procedures,” Hines said.

Speaker Thomas entered the meeting at the beginning of Hines’s speech and took over the role as speaker of the senate.

Matthew Adjin-Tettey, a student at Georgia State, was immediately seated as an undergraduate senator for the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. He was allowed to vote on any legislation following the decision.

Freshman Liaison Hermela Assefa was named SGA officer for the month of January and Speaker Pro Tempore Terry Fye for the month of February.

Senator Announcements

During the two-minute speeches, Sen. John Le used the time to ask SGA members to reflect.

“I want you guys to think about your ‘why.’ Why did you join SGA? Why are you sitting here today?” Le said. “Every time you do anything SGA related, think of that. Then, think of the students you’re representing too. Students need a voice, and that is us. We cannot let them down.”

Sen. Mario Calcagno took the two minutes to tell SGA members to remind students to vote at the on-campus polling location.

“Students who are registered to vote in Fulton County can vote on campus [March 9-10], and tell everybody that you know to vote in the primaries because it’s very important,” Calcagno said. “I think it’s very important that young people have their voices heard.”

Fye announced that SGA senator applications for the Atlanta Senate will open on March 13 to fill vacancies for the 91st Administration.

New Government Affairs Committee

Later on, Fye introduced a bill to create a Government and Community Affairs Chair and Committee.

“The introduction of this chair and standing committee will make the Atlanta Senate more efficient and representative of the student body in state affairs,” the bill states.

Sen. Nigel Walton entered the meeting two hours into its start time during the discussion of the bill.

The bill was passed and the budgeting of the committee was reflected in the SGA Operational Budget Proposal for the fiscal year 2021. The budget proposal showed $2,000 moved from the senate budget to fund the new committee. The stipends for executive vice president, finance director and all committee chairs also decreased to fund the Government and Community Affairs Chair stipend.


Sen. Kalil Garrett motioned to amend the agenda to add a discussion of Georgia State’s coronavirus contingency plan earlier in the meeting. The motion was seconded and passed.

“Use common sense and do the normal thing you do to not get the flu,” Atlanta EVP Hamza Habibur Rahman said.

He continued to inform the senate that there is no outbreak or current threat and that there is no reason to be scared.

Toward the end of the meeting, the discussion formally began when Walton attempted to clarify that the virus is not officially called the “coronavirus”; rather, it is a type of coronavirus.

“I have spoken to upper administration today about this whole issue,” Rahman said.

Sen. Takia Tinsley asked Rahman how the university can keep students calm if their professors have already begun to cancel classes in fear of the virus.

“My conversation with Dean [Michael] Sanseviro as of 3 o’clock today was [that] these professors need to not be doing that,” Rahman said. “They are coming down on professors that are doing so because we have received no indication that this is a viable threat to us.”

According to Rahman, Sanseviro is frustrated with other departments that are making these decisions without consulting upper administration.

Sen. Spencer DeHart mentioned the email that was sent to teachers asking if they’d be able to lecture their classes online.

“The reason they are doing that is because the university has asked a refresher of protocol,” Rahman said. “In the event of an outbreak, the university [will] attempt to begin moving courses online, and the university is preparing to do so in case it is needed, but as of now, it is not needed.”

The discussion then shifted to the status and safety of students studying abroad.

“With regards to study abroad, that actually wasn’t a call made by [Georgia State]; that actually was a call made by [the University System of Georgia]. Basically, the University System said, ‘Pull everyone out of China and Italy, and anyone currently facing quarantine will be put in touch with the U.S. Embassy,’” Rahman said. “They are working on refunds to be issued.”

The discussion was extended twice before the meeting ran out of time.

Calcagno began to question the validity of the information given to students because “the people who are supposed to be solving this issue do not believe in science.”

“We also have to remember that we are not scientists also; we are only going off information that is given to us,” Sen. Aubrey Abraham said. “If you’re going to say that this is incompetent, then you have to be the one to bring in viable solutions.”

Following this statement, Fye motioned to end the discussion early after the meeting began to run overtime. The motion was passed.

SGA plans to hold their second university-wide meeting of the spring semester March 12, the last day of the SGA elections.