Editorials

After its precarious split from the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) last year, the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) finally released their constitution to The Emory Wheel after multiple requests for the document. GSGA has supposedly been operating under this code for the last five months, since ratifying it April 17.

Unlike SGA, GSGA’s constitution contains no mention of public documents. Financial information, voting records and minutes are not accessible to graduate students or Wheel reporters. Though students can formally request information about GSGA meetings and minutes, their elected representatives have no obligation to accede.

The legislature’s bylaws also grant astonishingly unregulated powers to members; with a simple majority vote, GSGA reserves the right to “enact a budget policy separate from [its] bylaws to govern the both the GSGA Legislature and Executive Board expenditures of GSGA funds.” Such a policy could presumably be enacted without any input from graduate students, GSGA’s primary financiers.

Unlike SGA’s constitution, GSGA’s constitution contains no mention of a judicial process to ensure that it abides by its constitution and bylaws. In fact, GSGA’s new constitution is practically identical to its deficient interim constitution used early last spring; no substantive changes have been made. Additionally, GSGA’s constitution and bylaws grant the legislature total control over the constitution. Voting members could theoretically rewrite and ratify both documents without any checks from the student body or University administration.

Though their intentions may be pure, without structures in place to scrutinize the legality of their actions and with no obligation to publicize its decisions, GSGA representatives are essentially free to use student funds however they see fit. No government should have been established under such lenient terms, and representatives should work to quickly rectify these deficiencies. Such governance may sound draconian or tedious, but GSGA representatives have a duty to hold themselves and future legislatures responsible for their decisions.

The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.

 

“Why did you have to shoot?”

Those are the painful words uttered by Bill Schultz in response to the fatal shooting of his child, Scout Schultz, a fourth-year engineering student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was killed by a Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) officer on Saturday night. This question posed by Scout’s father is the same one that lingers after every unnecessary police shooting.

Four armed officers surrounding one suspect should be able to de-escalate a tough situation without resorting to deadly violence. Schultz was shot after repeated commands by police to drop their multipurpose tool, whose blade was reportedly not extended. In videos of the incident, Schultz is seen slowly walking toward three police officers while one flanked them from behind. There was no attempt at using non-lethal weapons by any of the officers on the scene. The response to Schultz’s plea — “Shoot me!” — was the shot that lead to Schultz’s death.

Police should aim to protect the public at all costs. In too many instances, the suspect’s life is not viewed as worth protecting.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Schultz called 911 before being shot by campus police. In the call, Schultz described, “a white male, with long blonde hair, white T-shirt and blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip.”

Furthermore, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that that three suicide notes were found in Schultz’s dorm room after their death. Schultz’s mother told the AJC that Schultz had been diagnosed with depression in childhood, and that the state of their mental health fluctuated throughout their life.

The police officer who shot Schultz, Tyler Beck, was never trained in Crisis Intervention Training, which teaches police how to handle individuals diagnosed with a mental illness, according to the AJC. An officer with appropriate training should have been dispatched to help avoid the entire crisis.

Emory students frequent Georgia Tech’s campus on the weekends, and it’s likely that some Emory students were at Georgia Tech on Saturday night. In a phone call with the Emory Police Department (EPD), an officer told the Wheel that EPD would respond to a 911 call in the same manner as Schultz — with armed officers. It is clear that this is not unusual protocol.

Our society’s blind trust in police procedures needs to be re-evaluated. The use of lethal force is less common outside the United States but within our borders, 706 people have been shot and killed by police in 2017. Going forward, we must scrutinize and assess the failed policies that led to Schultz’s death.

As Schultz’s family grieves and Georgia Tech’s campus reels, our community should mourn in solidarity. Jumping to premature conclusions in an ongoing investigation is never helpful, but the words of Bill Schultz ring true once again: “[Whatever] happened should not have ended in death.”

The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.

Last week, the Trump administration announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). If Congress does not pass sweeping immigration reform before then, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants will be at risk for deportation.

Trump’s decision — politics aside — struck fear and uncertainty into the hearts of hundreds of thousands of young people who know little of life outside the borders of this country. They might live in legal limbo, but DACA recipients are not strangers to Emory students, nor are they strangers to the United States. Brought to this country as minors, recipients grew up in the U.S., work here and fight in our military; one “dreamer” even died while helping victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“Providing a permanent legal solution for these individuals is both a moral imperative and a national necessity if our nation is to live up to the ideals we espouse,” states a Sept. 7 letter sent to Congress by 57 university presidents and chancellors, including University President Claire E. Sterk, urging legislators to act on immigration reform.

This is a hardline stance from Emory in support of DACA recipients. When the government fails to protect vulnerable individuals, private institutions have to decide between falling in line or resisting; in the coming months while these students’ futures hang in the balance, Emory can, and already is, doing more to help them.

The University reaffirmed its commitment to DACA students in an Aug. 31 email by highlighting its current policies towards them and its other undocumented students. Providing need-based financial aid, legal non-compliance and privacy rights, among other initiatives, are acts of humanity. At minimum, the measures allow undocumented students to continue studying at Emory. Hopefully, the University’s policies help to ease undocumented students’ uncertainty despite Trump’s efforts to do the opposite.

Six months is an eternity in our modern news cycle. As the time passes, we cannot forget that there are students at Emory whose time in the U.S. has been given an expiration date.

As citizens with political capital, we must support the voices of undocumented students who choose to speak out and pressure Congress to pass legislation that will wholeheartedly welcome these individuals into our country, where they belong — permanently.

To write to your congressman, go to https://www.contactingcongress.org/.  

The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.

After a year of turmoil in the Student Government Association (SGA), freshmen representative elections are at the pinnacle of importance. Though the freshman elections may seem trivial to upperclassmen, it is no secret that SGA, like most college organizations, is nepotic.

The legislators we elect to represent the freshman class will likely end up in a high-level position when they are upperclassmen and will set the stage for the future of SGA. Current SGA President Gurbani Singh (18B) has served on SGA since her freshman year and her Executive Vice President, Natasha Armstrong (18B), has served since her sophomore year. There is a laundry list of mistakes the freshmen representatives must not repeat — lacking transparency, originality of their platforms and attentiveness to the SGA constitution. It is imperative that future SGA representatives learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.

Although there is little takeaway from the candidates’ generic platforms, the role of the freshman representative should be dealing with freshman-specific issues, such as improving DUC-ling menu options, meal schedules and long lines, and working to create a sense of community within the class of 2021.

With its concrete, freshman-focused planned initiatives, Surya Garg’s (21C) platform should set her up to be the front-runner. Garg sets realistic goals that would win her unanimous support; fixing the weak Wi-Fi connection on campus would certainly make her the most popular SGA legislator.

The other platforms were well-meaning but vague. The candidates may be competent, but their platforms are not reflective of their ability to affect change. We urge the elected freshmen representatives to educate themselves on the issues of their class and carry out necessary and desired changes. The students elected must hold themselves accountable to their freshman class and be prepared to elevate SGA to a more transparent, reliable and receptive governing body.

The Wheel evaluated candidates’ platforms, which can be found here: emorywheel.com/fallelectionguide2017/. 

The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.

 

If you’ve ever set foot in Decatur Square, home to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, The Iberian Pig and a cute, touristy gazebo, you’ve been in view of the so-called “Lost Cause” monument. Standing directly in the back of the old DeKalb County Courthouse, the monument commemorates fallen Confederate soldiers who “were of a covenant keeping race who held fast to the faith as it was given by the fathers of the Republic.”

The obelisk was erected in 1908 by “the men and women and children of DeKalb County” decades after the Civil War and two years after deadly race riots plagued Atlanta. This does more than simply commemorate Confederate soldiers; it’s a monument to current-day racism.

The Lost Cause monument stood as a symbol of conservative, white supremacist views at the height of the Jim Crow era. The symbols with which we adorn our public spaces should reflect the core ideals of the United States. Racism — and the idolization of those who defended it — cannot be among them. Some conservatives voice concerns of a slippery slope phenomenon, which could lead to the demonization of America’s leaders and founders like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

While that argument is often used to defend racist statues, it holds some credence. The history of our country is riddled with inequality and oppression — we cannot erase all evidence of our past, nor should we try. We draw the line at the legacy of the individual or cause memorialized.

Despite the fact that Jefferson was a slaveowner, he, for example, is remembered as a core writer of the Declaration of Independence and as one of America’s first great politicians. In contrast, the Lost Cause monument exclusively venerates the Confederate spirit — a supremacist ideology that stands for oppression and slavery. Just as importantly, we must consider the intent and context of construction.

The Lost Cause monument was erected more than four decades after the end of the Civil War and served as a rallying point for those committed to the “lost cause” of the Confederacy. We cannot allow a monument dedicated to the institution of white supremacy to guard a building that symbolizes our justice system.

DeKalb County may be unable to remove the monument because of a 2010 state law that prohibits the removal or relocation of public monuments. But the state of Georgia should amend the law, relocate the monument to a museum and carefully reassess which parts of its history to celebrate.

The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.

The deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month were a reminder of a truth many would rather ignore: Race relations in this country, and on college campuses like Emory’s, need work.

This year’s Creating Emory curriculum contained an incomplete, slapdash attempt to address the University’s history of slavery and racism. As a response to the current political climate, this brief history lesson during freshmen orientation was insufficient. Perhaps the attempt in itself is commendable, but the execution lacked the depth necessary for a nuanced discussion of race.

The script for Orientation Leaders abruptly introduces a 30-second section of historical facts such as Emory namesake John Emory’s prominent slave-owning family and the University’s strong opposition to abolition. The script says that “in its early years most of the faculty, college trustees, its most generous donors and every antebellum president owned slaves.” It then awkwardly asks students to silently reflect on how they feel about Emory in that immediate moment without any room for a comprehensive, informed dialogue.  

Moreover, simply acknowledging the wrongs of the past is not enough to ensure equality in the present; the Charlottesville protests are evidence enough that escalating racial tension is an ongoing and ever changing issue in this country.

Although Emory has become increasingly diverse since its official 1962 desegregation, it is easy, and all too common, to spend your years here in a social and, often, racial bubble. Students frequently fail to communicate with those outside of their communities as a result of instinctual social segregation. While our social lives need not be totally dominated by concerns about diversity, a complete education includes understanding diverse groups of people and values contradictory to our own.

The administration also has a concrete responsibility to facilitate dialogue and foster understanding between different groups on campus. University President Claire E. Sterk’s condemnation of intolerant hate groups — the first time Sterk has taken such a forceful stance on a contentious issue — marked a principled step in the right direction, but it was just one email, words which most students have quickly forgotten. Emory must work to mirror the sentiment of Sterk’s response to Charlottesville in its daily decisions.

While Emory’s attempt to acknowledge its past is appropriate, a few paragraphs in an orientation session won’t create lasting change at Emory. Institutional change is possible, but the administration, students and faculty must work to make continuous, comprehensive efforts  to build the “foundation of civil discourse” Sterk’s letter so enthusiastically champions.   

The Editorial Board is comprised of Annie Cohen, Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima. 

The deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month were a reminder of a truth many would rather ignore: Race relations in this country, and on college campuses like Emory’s, need work.

This year’s Creating Emory curriculum contained an incomplete, slapdash attempt to address the University’s history of slavery and racism. As a response to the current political climate, this brief history lesson during freshmen orientation was insufficient. Perhaps the attempt in itself is commendable, but the execution lacked the depth necessary for a nuanced discussion of race.

The script for Orientation Leaders abruptly introduces a 30-second section of historical facts such as Emory namesake John Emory’s prominent slave-owning family and the University’s strong opposition to abolition. The script says that “in its early years most of the faculty, college trustees, its most generous donors and every antebellum president owned slaves.” It then awkwardly asks students to silently reflect on how they feel about Emory in that immediate moment without any room for a comprehensive, informed dialogue.  

Moreover, simply acknowledging the wrongs of the past is not enough to ensure equality in the present; the Charlottesville protests are evidence enough that escalating racial tension is an ongoing and ever changing issue in this country.

Although Emory has become increasingly diverse since its official 1962 desegregation, it is easy, and all too common, to spend your years here in a social and, often, racial bubble. Students frequently fail to communicate with those outside of their communities as a result of instinctual social segregation. While our social lives need not be totally dominated by concerns about diversity, a complete education includes understanding diverse groups of people and values contradictory to our own.

The administration also has a concrete responsibility to facilitate dialogue and foster understanding between different groups on campus. University President Claire E. Sterk’s condemnation of intolerant hate groups — the first time Sterk has taken such a forceful stance on a contentious issue — marked a principled step in the right direction, but it was just one email, words which most students have quickly forgotten. Emory must work to mirror the sentiment of Sterk’s response to Charlottesville in its daily decisions.
While Emory’s attempt to acknowledge its past is appropriate, a few paragraphs in an orientation session won’t create lasting change at Emory. Institutional change is possible, but the administration, students and faculty must work to make continuous, comprehensive efforts  to build the “foundation of civil discourse” Sterk’s letter so enthusiastically champions.   

 

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.

To live up to its academic reputation, Emory must be a school where students not only perform well throughout the semester but also retain the skills and information they’ve learned for application in the real world. Unfortunately, as is true throughout much of higher education, some Emory students tend to put-off studying and rely on last-minute cramming, which is not conducive to cultivating the deep-rooted knowledge and subject mastery that could set Emory students apart.  

However, the blame does not fall entirely on students. While students would stay on top of their classes and begin studying early for finals in an ideal world, the realities of students’ busy schedules, the barrage of end-of-term papers and projects and an insufficient one- or two-day reading period each semester, make finding the time to do so difficult for even the most organized and capable students.

The University should institute a “dead period” for the week of classes before exams during which no assignments can be due. (Professors could obtain special permission for extenuating circumstances, such as classes without cumulative exams.) Such a dead period would encourage students to begin studying sooner, provide more time for seeking help from professors, peers or teaching assistants and discourage some professors from introducing new material directly before exams.

Without those measures, students are less likely to retain the information they’ve spent four months learning and may never fully learn difficult concepts they’ve struggled with throughout the semester, according research published last year by Dartmouth College (N.H.). The study concluded that “[college] educators could be especially helpful [in promoting effective learning] by structuring their pedagogy in a way that encourages spaced review” and not cramming. A 2015 International Journal of Students’ Research in Technology and Management study of college-age students undergoing exams also asserted that students who cram before exams are more susceptible to developing anxiety-related issues.

In the past, students have called for extensions to Emory’s one- and two-day reading periods. While a longer reading period between classes and exams could be beneficial, a dead period would be more effective since students would be less tempted to mismanage their time. An extended period without classes could tempt students, especially those with fewer exams, to socialize excessively and create a party culture around finals week. A dead period, on the other hand, would free up students’ time without eliminating the structure provided by classes.

There will always be those who choose to waste their time procrastinating and make other questionable decisions. Disciplined students should not suffer because of their less-motivated peers, and if Emory were to institute a dead period, dedicated students would take advantage of it — benefiting more from their Emory-gained skills and education.

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.

After a solid Dooley’s Week and, thanks to the last-minute intervention of Campus Life, a successful Friday night concert, the student body’s emotional response to the Migos fiasco has dissipated. As argued in last week’s editorial, other parties share responsibility for the error, but questions remain for the Student Programming Council (SPC) and the Student Government Association (SGA).

At the absolute minimum, students deserve to know the dollar amount lost to the fraudulent third-party booking agency. Ideally, SPC or SGA would publish all significant financial documents for the sake of transparency.

SPC Executive Board’s March 28 Facebook post to students failed to include even an adequate explanation for their mismanagement of funds, stating “It sucks. We’re disappointed.” Members of SPC are our fellow students, but they are students who have been entrusted with a budget of about $456,140. Being “disappointed” does not equate to taking responsibility for mistakes.

As the legislative body that oversees SPC, SGA is equally culpable for the loss of student money. Former SGA President Max Zoberman (17C) stepped up and formally apologized, embodying the leadership we expect from student government. But SGA’s repeated and insufficiently-reasoned refusal to release public documents containing details of the contract calls into question SGA’s priorities. In addition to responsibly managing the Student Activities Fee fund, SGA’s primary obligation is to represent students’ concerns to University administrators. Legislators must advocate to make information as accessible as possible rather than hide behind bureaucracy.

SGA President Gurbani Singh’s (18B) campaign platform highlighted transparency, and she promised to openly admit to SGA’s mistakes. Singh, however, seems to be satisfied with her predecessor’s actions, not responding to multiple requests from the Wheel for the release of the public documents. Furthermore, beginning this year, SPC will no longer hold open elections for president, but an internal election instead. The next leader of SPC must be considerably more attentive in their oversight of large and/or expensive projects.

While it is tiresome to rehash the repetitive tales of our representatives’ mistakes, disorganized solutions and nonexistent apologies, this year’s SGA and SPC have demonstrated that they are only committed to transparency when it’s convenient.

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.