Georgia Tech Student Government Harboring Money

*Names have been left out deliberately to protect the identities of those involved*

Everyone is well aware of the copious amounts of random and outrageous fees that colleges charge their attendees, and there is more often than not some type of Student Activity Fee that is used to fund the Student Government.  This money is then channelled into different groupings, one of which is to fund budgets, bills, projects for the students and student organizations on campus. The student governments are usually divided between the undergraduates and the graduates. Specifically, at Tech it is the Graduate Student Senate and the Undergraduate Student House.

Personally, as an undergraduate I paid $123 every semester in Student Activity Fees.  Georgia Tech quotes 25,034 students enrolled for the 2015 school year.  I don’t know if summer students pay the activity fee or not, but SGA has a large budget to work with.  The Student Activity fee is increasing next fall (2016) to help cover the cost of a new Student Center (which is greatly needed, but that is beside the point).

To clarify, I understand the importance and difficulty of managing a budget that spreads across several platforms, as I myself am treasurer of my team (in which we receive money form different platforms and keep it in different types of on and off campus bank accounts).  Because I have been Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer, I have attended many SGA meetings and conferences and as well as talked to senators and house members about some of the actions/politics of SGA. The same of my predecessors and Presidents of the team.  This information is passed along to me, and is where many of my complaints and sources derive from.  Thus, I am sure there are costs and processes within SGA and the Joint Finance Committee that I am unaware of or I am mistaken about.

However, I like many other students at Georgia Tech pay a lot of money in random fees, and I would like them to use the fees accordingly. However, it has come to my attention that SGA has a very large surplus of money in their Capital Outlay Fund that they are sitting on (maybe 1.5 million, most likely much more like another million more) and they continue to build up this surplus by cutting budgets heavily.  Any money not spent in this Capital Outlay fund is rolled over to the next fiscal year, just to accumulate more.  The point of this money is to act somewhat like an emergency fund (which is wise to have).  But this money is just sitting there doing nothing, not even accrueing interest.  The last major student project on campus was the rehabilitation of the Student Athletic Fields as a result of broken pipes/drainage under the fields.  The catch is this: the surplus student activity fees/ “emergency fund” money was not fully used to fix this issue.  The majority of the project was fundraised as they had significant time to do so.  So my Student Activity fees sat unused in a bank account for the sole purpose of SGA boasting a budget of several million.

That money can be used to fund the budgets/bills of not just my team but of every other club on campus, especially the Tier III clubs who are cut heavily compared to the Tier II organizations (those politics are for another day and another blog post).  It is typical for 85-90% of the budget to be approved, yet clubs continually have to submit bills to the SGA to help cover costs.  For example, we submitted three bills for a rough addition of $58,000 to our budget, while a large portion of that was for a roof repair and a boat purchase, there was a signifiant bill passed for roughly $20,000 to cover entry fees and travel costs because SGA cut it from our FY 2016 budget, costs that would otherwise be internalized by our 80+ members.

As the Fiscal Year 2016 approaches the end, budget reviews are in process for Fiscal year 2017. AdHoc committees decided to make a recommendation of 10 cuts to all budgets across the board.  Our team was hit hardest by these two:  “Strike travel costs equal to or exceeding $1500 for a single event” and “Strike the 6th tournament registration for competitive organizations (if six were requested).”  There were other cuts that decreased our budget, but they were minimal compared to these two.  Now the Graduate Senate and the Undergraduate House vote separately on whether to accept these cuts from the AdHocs or not.  The Grads were silly enough to do so; hopefully, the undergrads will see the ridiculousness of the AdHoc cuts.  In the debate process one grad student rep made the terribly condescending remark of “cut budgets to the point that they [the clubs] can barley maintain themselves.”  What is the point of that? That effectively renders every team team and club on campus useless.  We would be unable to attend regattas, we could barely pay coaches, we wouldn’t be able to upkeep our equipment, dues would sky rocket.  We would essentially move from one of the best Club teams in the Southeast to one of the worst.  Unfortunately, many agreed with this man, stating that it would help organizations run more efficiently and effectively, and SGA wouldn’t be losing money from “handing out money “that was never used. (Which really makes no sense because if SGA Budgets are not cleared to zero by the end of the Fiscal year, SGA keeps that unspent money originally allocated to the Club.  They don’t really lose money.) There were several voices of reasons in the crowd who pointed out that that idea was flawed and would only create mayhem among Tech’s student organizations.

Without SGA’s funding our team could not exist.  Our members already end up paying somewhere around $1,000 and $1500 a year between dues and regatta fees for the Spring Season, and that is with SGA giving us money.  With these proposed cuts, which take out more than $17,000, our members would be paying close to $3000 a year to participate in a School Funded Club.  We pay our Student Activity Fees, we too would like to see the benefits of that money.  What is the point of cutting budgets when you already sit on millions of dollars that you do nothing with?  I pay into the system, and I would by-god like to see the results of that, not just for the sake of my club but for every club on campus.    

 

the Pas de deux

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Two dancers. Black stage. They slowly articulate, moving separately and alone.  Too far apart to be one.  The eye bounces back and forth between the two.  Soft moves and quick tempos.   Reluctantly, they begin to explore the stage, moving from their respective corners with lunging glisades, bourrees, temps lie and tombes.  Slowly with the luring trills and crescendos they make their way to each other, hesitantly.  A force continues to draw them back to their corners ever so often.

The music trills and their bodies find themselves face to face.  heavy Breathing.  chests Moving up and down.  A soft, flow of her hand presents herself.  He grabs the offer.  The bodies become one.  Hands slowly move across each other’s bodies.  Gentle to the eye, but to each other their is no grace.  Tight grasps and strong holds.  Balance depends on the false illusion of simplicity and hidden force.

Arms wrap around each other, bodies brush past each other.  Feet quickly dancing in time.  Legs bending, breaking the force, providing the energy.  Quick Quick Slow.  Harsh Harsh soft.

The Music softens as the two slow.  Their bodies no longer intertwining together.  He slowly lets his hand slide down her torso and off her skirt.  Her hand slowly floats off his shoulder.  Soft glances and she parts way.  Her simple steps, her light steps carry her away.  He stands there with his arm still out stretched from falling off her body.

 

Military Action and Peruvian Racism

The discrimination seen in Peru today can be linked directly to the violence and terror that controlled the last twenty years of the 20th century; however, the problem is rooted deeply in the colonial history of Peru.  While the military action was against the uprisings and terrorism of the movements like the revolution of Tupac Amaru and el Sendero Luminoso, the attacks to calm these groups increasingly relied on race distinctions and stereotypes, perpetuating a society of racism.

Before the internal conflict began there was a long standing discrimination against the indigenous peoples and the poor that pushed people to create communist parties to fight for the rights of the people as the documentary, the State of Fear hints at.  The indigenous  people weren’t given the access to equal education, healthcare, legal systems, civil liberties, economic advances that other people had access to.  This keep them poor and as if they were second class citizens.  This type of discrimination feed into a local construct of racial discrimination, that you were poor and a lower class citizen as a result of your race, something that the “Choleando” documentary tries to explore.

As terrorism against the government began it made sense for the government to retaliate in order to protect and uphold whatever democratic processes in Peru (as the first attack was against a voting site during one of the first elections) in order to prevent the state entering a state of anarchy.  However, very quickly, the situation escalated and the government suspend civil rights.  The State of Fear  discussed events like military and martial law under Fujimori, and Terry suspended constitutional rights.  Essentially, the people of Peru gave up their right for a democracy for security from an internal terrorist threat.  Without these government protections the government and the military had a free card to violate human rights against whomever in as brutal a manner as they wanted.

Soon the government was relying on stereotypes and long enduring racism in the country to detain and or kill any of the 69 thousand Peruvians that died or disappeared (CVR).  Since many of the uprisings began in the rural villages where many of the indigenous people lived, the government came to the very basic and simplified decisions that all indigenous people were worthy of the violence to eradicate the leftist movement. “Of every four victims of the violence, three were peasants or farmers whose mother tongue was quechua, a large sector of the population historically ignored – even occasionally despised – by the State and urban society.”(CVR) The society of non-integration(CVR), the society of Lima vs the rural areas(NY Times), the society of first class citizen vs second class citizen (class discussion) created a breeding ground to commit these human rights atrocities on the indigenous peoples.  The inequality rationalized the violence.  It made it acceptable. The “hunt” for the terrorists, who only wanted the government to notice and improve the lives of their people, soon became a cover to install fear, to destroy and to repress a group of the population that the government had continually ignored throughout history.

The racism and discrimination of Peru during that time was so large scaled, government endorsed, and violent that it will take a long time for healing.  That type of discrimination is instilled in the mindset and ways.  For example, the child discussed in the NY Times article and the situation discussed in the National Geographic article still hint at a racism instilled with neglect and stereotypes respectively.  Both of which were largely impacted the turn of events in the 80’s and 90’s of Peru.  Granted the violence is not there now, many of the attitudes still exist.  I like to think that people realized that violence and the mass killings are not an appropriate way to handle to a situation and race, but thats just me.

 

*http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/opinion/arana-the-kids-left-behind-by-the-boom.html?_r=0

*http://www.ngenespanol.com/el-mundo/hoy/14/03/10/racismo-se-niega-dejar-peru/

*Discurso de Presentación del Informe Final de La CVR (CVR)

 

We the Photographer

Photographers. We enter into people’s lives.  We ask for nothing in return. We stand silently in the background.  We add no noise, only the click of the shutter.  We play with the light and dark.  We let the shadows obscure.  We only want to tell their story, their plight, their lives. Something captures our eye and we only want to share it.

We see other people’s plights, and we exploit that.  There is not much we can offer in return to help.  We enter your world to try to understand it.  We pry into your soul, trying to capture your pain, grief, woes.  We want to show it.  We want the intimacy.

We put ourselves in danger physically, mentally, biologically.  The only thing we want in return from our viewers is understanding of our pictures.  We want people to see what we see, feel what we feel.  We want our subject’s story told.  We want a discussion to begin on the conditions we see.

We are not emotionless for taking pictures of other’s sorrows, of humanitarian crises, of disaster.  On the other hand we feel the utmost.

Recruiting for the Rowing Team P.4: Farewell Summer

Today was the last day of summer recruiting.  The Bookstore was jamming with orientation students and freshman buying books.  Excited freshman anticipating the start of school on Monday wandered around the store, a little lost I may add. It was hard not to pick up on the mood and goof off a bit.

Okayyyy, we spent the entire time goofing off.

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uh, I am really not too sure what this is… 

We even made friends with some other cool people (they were recruiting lifeguards) who shared our table. (Correction they stole our table.)  They were a great help, telling keen potential lightweight novice freshman that they actually needed three years of experience and had to be 6’3” to join rowing.

This also happened…….

Also, in good fashion the lights in Barnes and Nobles decided to randomly turn off.  To which the very hungry and unhappy Hannah who really wanted one of the cookies being offered commented, “The room lights up based on my attitude.”  Note: the lights came back on when I told her she could go get a cookie.

Our good friend, Melissa from Student Center Services, keep her typical orientation promise of cookies for everyone!   nom noms!!!!

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Cookie monsters strike again stealing cookies from freshman. 

We may or may not have watched non-rowing related videos on youtube instead of attracting people with our hype videos.

Oh, did I mention I was serenaded by a terribly off key ginger.

I honestly, don’t think we recruited anyone today.

*Disclaimer: No rowers were injured in the process of recruiting.*

Recruiting for the Rowing Team P.3: Unexpected Events

It’s a swell day.  We are at Barnes and Nobles just recruiting when a lovely siren goes off.  In the past it was just some random siren from the tech department.  But noooo not  today.

Please exit the building.  Smoke has been detected in the area. 

UGhhhhh, Quick grab the medals.  That’s the only important thing.

Chilling outside.  The sun is beating down on us.

Some kid rolls by on this contraption. Yes, rolls.  

photo 4.  

And of course somebody has to try it out for himself.

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photo 3 Despite secretly wishing you would fall off, thanks for entertaining us.

Recruiting for the Rowing Team p.2: Behind the Scenes

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Back at it again!!! 1 Week before school starts up and practices begin… arrrrghhhhh!!!!!

Recruiting in-coming freshman once again in the heat. Who shall we hit up with our prepared speeches of glory?  Of course, we stereotype people. Rowers and coxs alike. But we also welcome anyone who lingers or stares too long at our table.  Dude we see you starring…You know you want to join GT rowing. 

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But what really happens behind the table.

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The wind blows by and the poster flies away because a certain person abandoned their one job of holding the poster in place.  YOU HAD ONE JOB!!!!!!

There is always that one kid who eats all the popsicle that are meant for those that sign up.

Someone always throws out the idea of hitting people with the oars to attract them to our table instead of the other sports teams next to us.  (and Yes, we bash the other club sports.)

A drunk party story is bound to come up.

A very hungry rower is bound to be snacking… let’s be honest it’s actually me.

Debating about whether we should approach a certain person.

Trying to hold the oars up and someone commenting that it looks like a stripper pole. (proceeded by awk giggles and comments) 

Deliberately planning to recruit the hot guys walking by and then fan girling over the fact that they actual signed up. ( #sorrynotsorry we want a hot novice men’s team.)

And, everyone is complaining about the heat.

25 Cats Who are 100% You… Rowing Edition

1. This cat is you when you are about to stuff your face after practice.

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2. This cat is you when you wake up on Sunday and realize that you don’t have practice.

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3. This cat is you when you accidentally eat the entire bag of snacks in the car on the way to the boathouse.

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4. This cat is you when you realize you made a terrible mistake not stretching before a sprint piece.

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5. This cat is you when Coach Chase tells you to ask a varsity member to help you strap a boat when you are a varsity member.

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6. This cat is you when the novice take out boats for the first time.

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7. This cat is you when you finish practice.

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8. This cat is you when you hear Coach Chase talking.

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9. This cat is you when Coach Jay decides to kill us at practice

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10. This cat is you when your parents try to take pictures of you after your race.

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11. This cat is you when practice is cancelled.

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12. This cat is you when you try to make a sexy face at the hot guys at regattas.

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13. This cat is you when someone sides with Coach Chase.

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14. This cat is you after you finish a 2k.

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15. This cat is you when you hear the words “split hold.”

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16. This cat is you in the middle of an hour steady state.

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17. This cat is you when the 2k is moved.

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18. This cat is you when you find a washer on the ground.

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19. This cat is you when drunk kitty crashes.

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20. This cat is you when you win your seat race.

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21. This cat is you when practice is cancelled and you don’t know what to do with your free time.

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22. This cat is you when you are in the middle of Gluckman and can’t remember which set of five you are on.

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23. This cat is you when you learn about some new team gossip.

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24. This cat is you when you are half delirious after practice.

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25. This cat is you when you are eating a well deserved after practice donut. enhanced-16561-1438425199-1

*yes this was blatantly stolen from a buzz feed article*

Recruiting for the Rowing Team P.1: Conversations

Freshman Orientation.  Hi. Hello.  Can I interest you in the rowing team at Tech?  No experience necessary…..

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Easy, Straightforward.  Think Twice.

Here are some fabulous quotes from the summer experience of recruiting new team members.

Them:

“What is rowing?”

“No thanks. I’m not a runner.” ( umm okay)

“I don’t have any upper body strength. Sorry”

“Do you row on water?” (no, this is a land sport.)

“I kayaked once. Does that count?”

“What is the time commitment?

          – About 3 or 4 practices a week(straight up lie)

“I’ll sign up! I’m just looking to make some friends.  I don’t really know anyone.”

“No experience!!! Awesome! Where do I sign up?”

“I’ll sign up for the free sunglasses.” 

“Can I get these medals if I join?”

“Why when I see rowing, is it always women? Is there a men’s team?”

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Us:

“You can make lots of tall friends”

“Hey, you there in the green shirt!”

“-You look like ya’ll played sports in High School.

          -oh, uh. I didn’t play any sports.” ( this is suddenly awk)

” I don’t know what kind of friends you are looking for, but we are pretty cool.”

“We have lots of parties.” (let’s not say that in front of parents. We have social events.)

“It’s like Greek life but you stay in shape and travel across the country and (looks to the parents) it’s cheaper!”

NATO’s Rock Solid Commitment to Article 5

Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

*The Washington Treaty*

Recently, NATO published that its commitment to Article 5 is rock solid. I find this somewhat debatable.  Look at the list of members. There are countries that don’t get along.  Take Greece and Turkey for example.  Turkey doesn’t even acknowledge the water space of Greece and claims Crete as Turkish land, when Greece owns it.

When most people, especially Americans, think of Article 5 and what NATO means our minds jump to the conclusion that all of NATO would go to war against the country that invaded the member country.  Not so.  The clause states that is the obligation of each member state to help the invaded country in any manner they deem appropriate. 

That means anything from sending an email about how sorry such and such country is about the invasion to sending the entire military to aid.

Looking at the Turkey/ Greece issue, how would they react to an invasion of one of each other?  Would they send military aid, money, or a letter?? What happens when Russia invades/attacks Estonia or Albania or Poland? Who is going to support rock solidly a small nation? They would be lucky to receive any thing more than money or help in training for combat.  What if military equipment was given? Two tanks… How helpful.  I hardly call that a strong commitment to Article 5.

Secondly, what are we classifying as an attack or invasion on a member country.  Remember, when Russia attacked Estonia’s cyber system in 2007?  That was clear attack on Estonia.  Did NATO step in?  No.  There was no clear evidence to suggest an attack by Russia.  If NATO doesn’t see the importance of the country or the strategic benefit of aiding, will NATO even declare an attack has been made??

So, NATO, How rock solid is your commitment to Article 5?