SGA U-Wide Executive Committee meeting — Racial issues and sexual assault

Photo by Olivia Nash | The Signal

On June 5, the Student Government Association’s 91st administration held its first University-Wide Executive Committee meeting, open to everyone for the first time.

Made public on SGA’s Instagram Live, the meeting discussed SGA recruitment, the death of George Floyd and the recent sexual assault allegations at Georgia State.

Kaelen Thomas, the university-wide president, began the meeting by welcoming the SGA community and its newest member, Executive Vice-President for the Alpharetta campus Muskan Virani. Then the vacant spots within the association and proposed strategies for recruitment were discussed.

Thomas, then, began discussing forums and ideas of the anticipated live rallies. This followed the March 30 press release made by Atlanta Communications Director Alldon Thompson regarding the death of George Floyd and the recent Atlanta protests.

“Due to these events, the Student Government will be hosting live rallies at GSU_SGA on Instagram and Twitter and gsu.sga on Facebook in the coming days,” the press release states. 

The live rallies will be held via Zoom or Microsoft Teams and then live streamed among several social media platforms.

“Currently, the idea was to have that event on this upcoming Tuesday, but I fear that the details for that event might not be finalized, so I’m not sure if we’re going to continue to have it on Tuesday or if we should push it back a week and I was wondering what you all thought on that,” Thomas said. 

Kyle Kath, Clarkston campus executive vice president, suggested holding the live rallies a week after the intended date because Georgia State has already created a forum for students.

According to Thomas, the two main goals of the live rallies are to give a voice to the students that are frustrated right now and gather ideas from the student body on how SGA can “tackle these issues.”

Editor-in-Chief of The Signal Ada Wood later joined the meeting to ask the members of SGA how they were going to sign the recent editorial. Signing the editorial is another outlet for the student government to address the issue of racial discrimination.

Towards the middle of the meeting, the discussion shifted from racial inequality to the recent sexual assault and harassment allegations at Georgia State.

On June 3, Thomas released a letter affirming that action will be taken. 

“I pledge that all student government officers will undergo Title IX and Sexual Assault Awareness training before we come back in the fall,” the letter states. “We will also be partnering with the International Human Trafficking Institute to start a campaign focused on educating our University on the prevalence of sex and human trafficking in spaces like ours and how we can continue to protect students from predators.”

Thomas’s letter was released prior to him receiving the letter by Georgia State’s Radical Coalition of Survivors addressed to Mark Becker, the housing directors, the office of student success and LASSO. 

According to Thomas, the coalition’s letter included a list of demands for specific departments at Georgia State. Though no demands were addressed toward SGA, Thomas finds it necessary for SGA to help facilitate discussion around the students’ concerns. 

“We can definitely do something,” Mariya Cummings, executive vice president of the Decatur campus, said.

Along with creating the email as a gateway for the live rallies and the #ShareYourStory campaign, SGA wants to have a “physical representation” of students’ racial and sexual assault stories whether that be through murals, sculptures or banners around all Georgia State campuses. 

“We want to hear their voices and we want to hear their stories and lived experiences. I really do want students to know that we are trying to hear them,” Thomas said.