GSGA Funds A.J. Burgess Forum

The second legislature of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) convened Monday evening to approve funding for a forum about issues surrounding A.J. Burgess’ delayed kidney transplant and to hear a presentation from Outdoor Emory regarding the organization’s potential to serve graduate students.

GSGA voted unanimously to approve $700 in funding for “A.J.’s Case,” a forum on health care, race and the law, which will be held Wednesday. Leea Allen (19T) presented a formal funding request of $476.53 to cover lunch for about 75 people, but GSGA later raised the amount to $700.

“We’re hoping that this is not just a moment where Emory came together for one thing, and then we’re done, but really thinking deeply about what this means at the intersection of healthcare and race and private health care and access,” Allen said.

Allen had sought funding and support from GSGA for “A.J.’s Case” last week.

GSGA has $10,000 to spend on funding requests each academic year, which is split into $5,000 for each semester, according to Vice President of Finance Deepa Raju (18B). GSGA had not used any of the money before Allen’s request.

Fifty-two people are currently registered for the event, but Allen said that she expects people who have not registered to attend and that the budget for 75 people was a conservative estimate.

“If I know anything just based on how Candler grad students work, most of the time, about 50 percent don’t register, and so people just kind of show up,” Allen said. “So that 75 number is kind of awash now.”

Legislator Byron Wratee (18T) voiced concern that the amount of funding Allen originally requested would be insufficient for the event, calling it a “very conservative estimate.”

Legislator Sydney Kaplan (19L) motioned to fund the luncheon as requested. Legislator Kylee Borger (19PH) amended the bill to fund the luncheon up to $700.

“A.J.’s Case” will be held Nov. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m at the Candler School of Theology and is open to all graduate students, according to Allen. The forum will consist of a panel with speakers Sankofa United Church of Christ Pastor Derrick Rice, former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman, Candler School of Theology Professor Emmanuel Lartey, Rollins School of Public Health Associate Professor Anne Spaulding and Mawuli Davis, one of the Burgess’ family’s attorneys. Breakout group discussions will take place following the panel.

“The breakout groups will be interdisciplinary small groups where students will discuss their key learnings from the panel discussion and ways they will apply that knowledge in their studies and professional life after graduate school,” Allen wrote in a Nov. 14 email to the Wheel.

Outdoor Emory President Carolyn Perry (18B) asked GSGA to promote Outdoor Emory, a University-wide Organization, to graduate students and to collect feedback on trips or activities graduate students would be interested in. She did not present a formal bill or resolution. Perry declined to provide Outdoor Emory’s graduate student membership numbers.

Perry said that her focus is on ensuring graduate students are aware of Outdoor Emory’s resources.

“My concern is not reaching the 15 percent membership quota that was set,” Perry wrote in a Nov. 14 email to the Wheel. “I am not worried about losing GSGA funding but instead want to focus on actually serving all seven graduate schools.”

Outdoor Emory trips are subsidized by the University and thus offered at a discounted price to the whole student body, Perry told GSGA. She emphasized that graduate students who are Outdoor Emory members can also borrow equipment from the Outdoor Emory shed.

“Graduate students, when we talk to them about what we offer, generally are super interested in Outdoor Emory and the resources that they oftentimes didn’t realize were available to them. We’ve seen this through graduate students that come to all our meetings, come on our trips, borrow our equipment,” Perry said. “All of them are obviously pretty hyped about the opportunities Outdoor Emory offers.”