GSU-GPC consolidation update: Student groups plan to make transition process smoother for students

Since Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) announced this year that they would consolidate to create a university spanning cities, administration and student groups have been working to unify the separate student bodies.

Charles Guilbeau, Georgia State managerial science senior, transferred from GPC about two years ago. He said after a “pretty rough” transition, he’s concerned that a drastic shift in school structure could prove taxing for current GPC students.

“GPC is definitely a small place,” he said. “It was like the transition from middle school to this really big high school.”

Large student organizations on each campus are planning for the impending consolidation to help students have a more seamless transition.

Forming on SGA

So under the hood of Georgia State’s Student Government Association (SGA), university politicos are working long hours to help Jaguar students merge into the Panther lifestyle.

Just about 10 months until the Panther Family grows by some 20,000 students, SGA is still tweaking its governing documents to accommodate that huge influx from the Georgia Perimeter campuses.

SGA executives from Georgia State and GPC have united to form a consolidation committee to address discrepancies in their governing processes and to oversee the inflated student body.

During the meetings, they’ve been holed up in conference rooms for as much as six hours at a time to fine-tune big documents, such as new SGA constitution and bylaws.

“We met last Friday for like six hours,” said Georgia State’s SGA President Sebastian Parra at an Oct. 23 meeting. “This committee has met 18 hours so far.”

And Georgia State’s Student Center Director Boyd Beckwith said at the meeting they still have at least another 12 hours of planning to finalize a draft of these documents to go before senate vote.

Anthony Nguyen, Georgia State SGA’s vice president of public relations, said much of the editing and drafting discussion involves incorporating more of GPC’s constitutional language.

“It allows each respective campus to operate how they are accustomed, because it only has what is entirely necessary,” he said. “The bylaws allow flexibility for each SGA to operate how they need, while also keeping a single SGA structure.”

Beckwith said these tentative changes incentivize Georgia State’s SGA to be well read on the subject matter of the amended documents.

“This gives the executive board…really has the most interest in making sure this is correct,” he said. “It needs to be on the agenda for the next senate meeting.”

Georgia State SGA’s VP of Academic Affairs David Jackson reiterated at the meeting, “Take it very seriously; don’t sleep on this.”

But Nguyen said the constitution and bylaws won’t be receiving a total makeover, just a few adjustments of technicalities.

There aren’t many differences except in the GPA standards raising, I believe,” he said, “[plus] taking things out of the constitution to prevent loopholes, and adding them to bylaws so we can change things if needed.”

“All the GPC SGAs and the Atlanta campus SGA are to review the drafted constitution and have whatever recommendations for changes back to this committee by Friday the 13th of November,” Beckwith said.

Getting adjusted

Still, Guilbeau said if students aren’t already enrolled at Georgia State, he thinks they may face a rocky transition during the consolidation.

“It was just my first semester. My grades…I had B minuses, straight B minuses. And I had to drop a class. It was just overwhelming,” he said.

He said he thinks the consolidation is “pointless.”

“I register the first day I am scheduled to register and it is still a struggle for me to get the classes I want.”

Ben Abrams, sophomore Sports Editor at GPC’s Collegian newspaper, said many students at GPC are not sure about the exact details of the consolidation plan and his college could prepare students better.

“Honestly, I do feel like they could make better strides. It does seem like a lot of students are in the dark about what’s going on,” he said. “As far as getting students prepared for the transition, they haven’t done too much.”

He said he feels like the consolidation plan seems “weird” and would like to see their detailed plan.

“I understand the mission statement…I don’t know if there are any other ulterior motives besides that,” he said. “My concern is how are they going to make that transition from a two-year to a four-year school?”

Abrams said he is excited to be able to take bachelor’s classes and to get more involved with athletics when the two schools consolidate.

“I know GPC…even though they have an athletic department I don’t feel like, because it is a commuter school, was interested in athletics,” he said.

Some fanfare arose following Georgia State’s invitation of GPC students to attend Panther football games for free.

However, Georgia State Spokeswoman Andrea Jones said since the university has not yet annexed GPC campuses, no cash was taken from students pockets.

“The consolidation is not official until January and no fees have been changed on either side,” she said. “We have the capacity to accommodate them for football and it doesn’t cost anything to admit more.”

Mike Holmes, Georgia State’s Sports Information Director, said it’s too early to know how many Perimeter students are attending the games. But GPC’s presence at the games is just one effort to expand the #PantherFamily.

Student media

Abrams said there have not been any major changes with The Collegian. They plan to continue publishing content for the rest of the academic year.

“In the next school year in August, the officers will be a part of The Signal. But the good news is that The Collegian will still be online,” he said.

Next year, writers will be writing for The Signal and editors at the GPC campus who will oversee chapters, Abrams said.

“I feel like The Signal is a good paper,” he said. “I am excited to work and also learn from that paper.”