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.


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.

25 Cats Who are 100% You… Rowing Edition

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


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


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


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


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.


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


7. This cat is you when you finish practice.


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


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


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


11. This cat is you when practice is cancelled.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


19. This cat is you when drunk kitty crashes.


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


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


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


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


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


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*

Just to Clarify

I have received various amounts of comments and responses about my last blog post from people I know and people I don’t know. I understand that this post has reached out further than I imagined, and I am sure this has to do with Social Media and good ole southern gossip. However, I would like to take the time to clarify what the intent of the letter was. Many of you were drawn to the link most likely because of the rather blunt and harsh title. As the post was rather long, I doubt many people read the letter in its entirety. I know I would not have done so, if I had been in the position of many of you readers.

I too hold the same diploma that many of you have or will be receiving shortly, whether that be on Sunday or in the next few years. In no way am I devaluating the SCPS diploma. The SCPS High School has set a wonderful foundation for me to succeed at Georgia Tech. I feel like I was well prepared for the rigor and academics here. I would not choose to attend another high school in Savannah if I was given the choice. I know many of you worked hard in school. I did not shy away from hard work either. There were many times in High School where I felt like I worked twice as hard as the other students in my class, yet only had average grades. I agree that without Savannah Christian I would not be where I am today. It is a unique school with many opportunities. The majority of the teachers I had, had a passion for teaching and wanted to impart their knowledge to their students. Sometimes I did not mesh with their style or approach to teaching, but it did not stop me from trying to absorb what they taught me nor did it prevent me from respecting them as an educator. There is always something to learn from someone, and sometimes you don’t realize until further down the road in life.

With this blog post, I merely wanted to express that I believed that these teachers that were let go were a real asset to the SCPS, especially the middle school. (I personally believe that the middle school could be reworked to be a little more academically challenging, that it does not quite call students to the same level of academic standard as the high school does.) I question why such an event would happen, when these teachers have made a lasting impact on me and many others. I am sure you have had teachers that have done the same too you. What I want to know is why the school administration who is in charge of hiring/firing doesn’t see the value in these teachers, that by letting them go the quality of the education goes down, that by letting them go the school appears to not care about fostering the students. I am sure there is a back story that I am unaware of and administration steps that I do not understand as I am not a teacher.

In hindsight, the title may be too harsh, but the letter itself is just an attempt to show how these amazing teachers have influenced me. It is a credit to their skills and passions to educate the next generations that flow through SCPS’s doors.

We all have our opinions, have our own experiences with the school. For some SCPS was the best thing that ever happened in their life, others feel an indifference towards the school. I respect your opinions and your right to express them, even those who disagree with me. I appreciate those who have taken the time to respond to my blog and have voiced their opinions. I hope that this post helps to clarify the intentions of my letter.

Savannah Christian: A school that doesn’t foster the growth of students.

Savannah Christian Preparatory School(SCPS) has, over the past five years, slipped from being highly esteemed in the community to being disrespected by the alumni and the parents. I have personal accounts of families warning other prospective families not to send their children to SCPS because of the lack of respect the upper administration has for the teachers (the teachers who do the most to foster and develop your children), the people who influence your children the most after you, the parents. There have been a handful of teachers outside of Hancock Day School, my elementary School, that have influenced me significantly, and five of them have been fired. And who is to say that others won’t be?

Here is the letter I plan on sending to the Middle School and the Headmaster, concerning the latest rounds of firing of teachers:

It has come to my attention through Twitter that certain a Ms. Davis, who has taught in the Middle School since 2009 and has long been a substitute teacher, was fired recently as well as Ms. Fidler, Ms. Duffy, and Coach Wuest. As an alumna of SCPS, I would like to take the time to explain and to convince why the recent decisions of the Middle School administration is of poor taste.

In 2006 I transferred from one of the best elementary schools in Savannah, Hancock Day School to SCPS (Hancock did not offer a Middle School and High School program).  I proceeded to earn straight As in middle school as a student athlete, taking the academic electives over the goof-off classes while participating on the Pep Squad, Cheerleading, Soccer teams,and various other clubs. However, the academics were of sub-par, even in the advanced classes. This was not always the fault of the teachers as the academic standards and curriculum is decided by the department heads and the principles. Most of my middle school career was spent reviewing topics that I learned in fourth and fifth grade, even second grade, especially in the English classes. Yes, there were classes and teachers who taught me a significant amount but not every class was this way. 

In January of 2009, Ms. Davis was hired as a permanent sub for the eighth grade English classes (if I remember correctly both regular and advanced) as the previous teacher was on maternity leave. At the time I was in Adv. English and planning on taking Adv. English in ninth grade with the aspiration of taking AP English later on; therefore, it was of the up most importance to both my parents and myself that the Middle School English curriculum prepare me for the demanding English courses of the High School. I knew several students who had older siblings that had gone the Advanced track in the MS and moved into the Advanced/Pre-AP English in ninth grade. They said that they were not prepared for the rigor of the High School English class. They wished the Middle School had prepared them better. When Ms. Davis stepped into the role of our new teacher, she went straight to business. One of the first things she said was that the High School English courses were much harder than what we were used. (She had first hand experience as her eldest daughter was in High School at SCPS.) She wanted to try to bring us up to par and to prepare us. She wanted us to succeed in the next level.

After entering the ninth grade and completing the first semester of Adv. English, I knew that there would have been no way that I could have managed the B that I had if Ms. Davis had not held us to that high standard. She made us write timed essays on a range of topics to ensure that we were accustomed to the idea of spitting out a coherent essay in 40 minutes. Honestly, I would have failed the first English timed essay if it hadn’t been for Ms. Davis.

Also, she took her time grading the essays and our written work, ensuring that each student’s work had constructive comments. She was approachable making it easy to ask her advice when we struggled to fix her corrections. It is to her and a few others among a small group of English teachers that I have had over my 15 years of schooling that I accredit my writing success to. I recently finished my second year at Georgia Tech. I am currently working at my second Journalism Internship. I am strong writer, with a strong style. I have received praise for my writing from friends, professors, and bosses. I perform well under time pressures. Because of her I was able to define my style. It is because of her I learned to love writing again. It is because of her that I find myself successfully pursuing a Journalism career. It is because of her that I learned that academic writing could be as easy as creative writing. It is because she set the basis, the ever-important rock foundation that later teachers and professors were able to build off of. It is her I have to thank.

I am not the only student that she has touched. Soon after that semester, Ms. Davis went on to become a full-time staff member of the SCPS MS, if I remember correctly. She taught both History and English. She called students to a higher standard whether they be in advanced or regular. She made sure that students understood that is the student himself who earns the grade, through their work or lack thereof. No teacher, no parent is responsible for what grade a student makes. She was fostering a new generation of students who were not entitled to an A, but a generation of students that were willing to come to class and do the work for the A.

Aren’t those the kinds of students that SCPS wants to boast about? Those that have a love for learning and academia. Shouldn’t you want to push students to work for their A? Shouldn’t you focus on not creating an entitled generation? Don’t you want teachers that push and encourage students? Don’t you want teachers that take these students and mold them into God-fearing, intelligent beings that will better the world? That is what MS. Davis did. Each student will tell you that she impacted their life in one way or another. Each student has a reason to love her, respect her. Each student has a reason to thank her.

As for the other teachers who were also distastefully fired, I have the upmost esteem for them. Ms. Fidler was an amazing Math teacher, who broke down the concepts of Math effortlessly. I used her tricks for years afterwards. My grade in her class soared from not-so-great to one of the highest in just a quarter because she took the time out of her schedule to approach me and to help me. She was the one who pointed out that I could be successful in Math, that I was a gifted Math student. She found a talent in me that I didn’t even knew I had. She nurtured the Math “youngling” in me. Her Latin class has stuck with me for what is now nine years, as well.  Ms. Duffy’s passion for History drove me to fall even more in love with History. I loved talking with her after class about what we were learning in class. She was full of interesting facts. She also nurtured my love for History. She let me grow and expand in it, at a time when it is so important. She let me decided what was right and wrong in History. She provided the facts and let me run with it. Coach Wuest pushed me on the soccer field and in the classroom to another level. The amount I learned and developed in his class is exponential. I have heard many, many times on several occasions that Coach Wuest’s class was the only English class that they learned anything in. His class was the first time that I had been exposed to non-creative writing in an English class. It opened a new world to me, one that would drive me to Journalism.

I hope you have realized that by firing her and the others, you have only hurt the school’s name. This is one act in a long list of events over the past five to six years that soiled the name and image of SCPS. As you know Savannah is a small town that gossip and news flies through. Acts like this leave the SCPS community in a negative state of being and impacts the decisions of prospect families. I can personally tell you that I know of people who have told families new to the area not to send their children to SCPS because the school doesn’t value the teachers and the drive to educate the students to be competitive with the students who apply for Ivy and second tier schools. The foundations of those students start in Elementary School, continue through Middle School, and develop in High School aided by teachers like Ms. Davis, Ms. Fidler, Ms. Duffy, and Coach Wuest.

Katherine Hewitt
SCPS Class of 2013
Georgia Tech Class of 2017. International Affairs.

Highway 21

Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day….. Or not.  It’s been a wet few days in summer; therefore,  nothing interesting to do.  What is better than spending an otherwise wet evening at a drive in movie theater?  After about a one hour drive in the rain with seven other people: 3 freshmen boys, 3 other  upperclassmen girls, and one college girl (just imagine the conversation in the car), we arrived at the Highway 21 Drive In.  To our surprise only three other cars showed up to watch the movie.  Even though drive ins like the one we visited are making a come back, the theaters still seem to be struggling.  The only way the drive ins make money is through the concession stands; therefore, personal snacks that would make the movie more like watching a movie at a home are not allowed (we brought snacks unaware of this rule).  The movie itself is much more affordable than going to an actual movie theater. At a local theater one movie ticket can cost up to ten dollars and thats before buying munchies.  At the drive in the cost to enter was seven dollars for two movies.  This particular theater was able to provide four movies on two screens so the options were not as limited as one would think.  One screen shows kid and family movies which makes this drive in a family friendly activity that does not break the bank. It’s unfortunate to see these drive ins struggling to stay open as the result of not enough visitors because they offer an experience not had in a regular theater: the privacy in your own car to talk without being shhhed, the opportunity to turn the evening into a picnic by opening the trunk and sitting in chairs or on blankets, and the chance to pretend you are in the past.