Club Sports Expresses Concerns with Graduate Membership to GSGA

The second legislature of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) convened Monday evening to discuss funding for Emory Club Sports and support for A.J. Burgess’ family and to vote on a resolution for GSGA to ask University administration to partner with campus dining delivery app Tapingo.  

Club Sports Council President Kitty Liang (19B) and Vice President Jared Linsky (18B) sought to delay the date when Club Sports would lose its $6,000 in funding from GSGA for lacking graduate student representation. Club Sports could  lose its funding as early as Fall 2018, according to Director of the Officer of Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions and SGA Adviser Lisa Loveall.

In order to retain its status as a University Wide Organization (UWO) and receive funding from GSGA, 15 percent of Club Sports’ membership must be graduate students.  

Club Sports is struggling to meet the 15 percent graduate student membership requirement before the February 2018 review.

“We’re just over 7 percent graduate student participation,” Linsky said. “That’s certainly nothing to be too proud of right now. We have to effectively double that number in order to maintain our UWO status.”

Further, the graduate membership must include representation from at least five of the eight graduate divisions, and members from one graduate division may not comprise more than 50 percent of the total graduate membership. Additionally, at least one graduate student must hold an executive position in the organization, according to GSGA Chief of Staff Kyle Davis (18B). GSGA and SGA set the requirements to be an UWO, and an annual review of the organization’s compliance with these requirements is scheduled to be conducted in February. The new UWO requirements were created after the SGA/GSGA split last semester.

“[Club Sports Council Executive Board] felt casted out by a lot of the decisions, and eventually the bill that passed which authorized this split,” Liang wrote in a Nov. 6 email to the Wheel. “Therefore, we actually did not have much turnaround time to tackle this problem of graduate student engagement and given only three more months before the review to meet the requirement is quite unfair.”

Although Club Sports leadership hopes to increase graduate student membership, Linsky said that increasing the participation rates from 7 to 15 percent in three months in unfeasible.

If Club Sports loses GSGA funding, participating graduate students would need to pay additional fees, which would further deter graduate students from joining, according to Liang.

Liang and Linsky emphasized that Club Sports has taken steps to increase its graduate student participation, including tabling efforts and sending newsletters to raise engagement and awareness, but they said that they needed more time to promote Club Sports and recruit more graduate students.

During discussion, legislators agreed that graduate students would be interested in joining if they are aware of the opportunity but ultimately made no motion on the request.

GSGA President Mark Neufeld (18B) said he and the Club Sports Council will meet Friday to further discuss the issue. Neufeld invited other legislators to attend.

Leea Allen (19T), who is not part of GSGA, sought GSGA’s help in the ongoing issue around A.J. Burgess, a toddler whose kidney transplant was delayed by Emory University Hospital (EUH). Allen requested GSGA make a donation through the GoFundMe set up by the child’s mother, Carmellia Burgess.

“The parents don’t have a car. … They have been bumming rides trying to get to and from the hospital,” Allen said. “They also have a mortgage and bills to pay and they have to eat. … Those expenses can add up really quickly, and when you add on top of that the emergency surgery he just had and anything else that comes up, they’re going to be looking at some pretty hefty financial struggles.”

Allen requested that GSGA help fund an event that would bring Sankofa United Church of Christ Pastor Derrick Rice and former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman to Emory, but did not specify the amount. She also asked GSGA help promote a letter, which is she is currently drafting, to University President Claire E. Sterk asking for Sterk’s formal acknowledgement and comment on the matter.

Legislators were largely sympathetic to the cause and wanted to help, but said that funding requests would require additional paperwork.

“If you need funding for that event, you would need to come back on Monday of next week with a funding proposal, but it would need to be approved right away, so you would need to get that done within the next day,” Neufeld said.

Neufeld said that GSGA cannot ask people to donate to the GoFundMe, but GSGA can “put out a blast out about awareness.” The legislature did not respond to the request for help promoting the letter.

Legislator Kylee Borger (19PH) presented a revised resolution to urge University administration to adopt Tapingo, an app that would allow both undergraduate and graduate students to have campus dining delivered through their meal plans. The resolution passed with 13 votes and one abstention. After the passage of the resolution, GSGA will approach University administration in regards to adopting the service.

Correction (11/14/17 at 1:26 p.m.): The article originally misstated that this was the first legislature of GSGA. The article has been updated to reflect that this is the second legislature.