Good Morning Yellow Jackets,
I hope that you all have been taking care of yourselves as we approach the end of this Spring semester. I’m writing to provide a formal update regarding the final decisions on the SHIP changes proposed by the USG.
The effort made to mobilize the student body and faculty to call and email the USG helped galvanized conversations that led to the USG reevaluating the proposed plans. Student voices and partnerships among SGA and the Offices of Graduate Studies, the Provost, and Administration and Finance further advocated for a renegotiated plan for Georgia Tech SHIP that now includes dental and vision coverage.
As the Georgia Tech administration announces the official numbers for the plan and the subsidy coverage in the coming days, the biggest outcomes we will see are that the USG unification led to significant increases in premiums. However, the Georgia Tech administration intends to minimize the immediate financial impact of these raised premiums through increased subsidies for GRAs and GTAs.
New SHIP Overview:
The Georgia Tech SHIP plan was originally projected to see 12% renewal increases to premiums. However, the unified USG plan with addendums for included dental and vision further increases the student mandatory insurance premiums 16% and voluntary insurance premiums 25%. The unified USG plan chosen to minimize premium increases has the effect of surging annual deductibles from $250 to $500, and out-of-pocket-maximums from $3750 to $6350. There will be no change in Stamps and Georgia Tech Pharmacy coverage with the unified USG plan. The terms of these plans are negotiated on a yearly basis and will be reevaluated for the following year with the intent of finding a long-term model for dental and vision coverage.
SGA’s role in the USG SHIP committee is persistent and will advocate for fair student health insurance to the USG and within the institute. Although this outcome is disheartening, our role as student leaders is to continue to champion the needs of the student body as a whole. Please continue to make your voices heard as the long-term models are sought out.
I want to thank you all for your outstanding effort and voice of support in this time of need. I am grateful to serve the engaged and spirited community we have at Georgia Tech.
In Progress and Service,
Graduate Student Body President
March 18, 2021
To the Student Body of the Georgia Institute of Technology,
We are outraged and saddened by the murders of eight people, including six Asian women at local metro-Atlanta Spas on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. We stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and those who have been emotionally or personally impacted by this horrific event. We recognize that this tragedy is among an escalated set of violence targeting Asian populations across the country. This violent wave of anti-Asian racism has manifested itself in the form of hateful rhetoric to all-out vicious attacks perpetuated against the AAPI community nationwide and serves as a painful reminder of the prejudice in our country against Asian communities. There is a great deal of pain and fear within the AAPI community that must be addressed nationally and on our campus. In light of this tragedy, we all must recommit ourselves to the fight against racism and take an active stand against violence targeted at Asian communities. Undergraduate SGA President Brielle Lonsberry and Graduate SGA President Lea Harris met with President Cabrera and Dean Stein on Wednesday, March 17 to discuss efforts that Georgia Tech will undertake to support students, especially members of the AAPI community during this difficult time. Additionally, SGA is reaching out to AAPI student organization leaders to learn how we can support the needs of their communities.
In addition, we are working with the Division of Student Life’s Diversity Programs and the Counseling Center on programming and support groups for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrated in April. As details are finalized, we will be sure to share them with the Georgia Tech community.
Please seek support or use the resources available at Georgia Tech for students dealing with this tragic event. For more information and to access these resources, please visit www.sga.gatech.edu/news. We remain committed to assisting students through this difficult time and remain open to feedback on our advocacy efforts so please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brielle Lonsberry (she/her) — Undergraduate Student Body President
Lea Harris (she/her) — Graduate Student Body President
Kyle J. Smith (he/him) — Undergraduate Executive Vice President
Jay Mckinney (he/him) — Graduate Executive Vice President
Proposed Changes to Georgia Tech Health Insurance
Good Afternoon Fellow Grad Yellow Jackets,
I write to you today to inform you of the proposed changes by the University System of Georgia to the Georgia Tech student health insurance plan (SHIP) which over 4000 of us grad students are a part of. The USG is considering a proposal that could increase our student health insurance costs by as much as 30% ($660/ year), reduces insurance benefits, and take the embedded dental and vision coverage out of the mandatory plan. This is being done at no benefit to Georgia Tech students, but to reduce the insurance costs for students at other institutions within the USG, by combining the Georgia Tech SHIP with the USG SHIP. If implemented, this plan severely threatens the healthcare finances of over 6500 Georgia Tech students and their dependents for the foreseeable future. As your graduate student body president, I have been fiercely advocating against these changes at the university system level. The institute leadership is also advocating on behalf of all Tech students. The proposal is set to be reviewed by the USG leadership as early as the week of March 8th.
How can you make your voices heard?
- Sign this formal petition by Sunday March 7th – directed towards USG Chancellor Wrigley and the Board of Regents: This time the USG leadership needs to hear directly from every single one of us who will be affected by these changes. You can do this by signing this formal petition put together on behalf of our graduate student body by Graduate SGA.
- Email the USG chancellor and call the Board of Regents by tomorrow or first thing Monday, March 8th: A petition alone may not be enough to convince the USG otherwise. That is why I encourage you to express your concerns directly to the USG Chancellor or any member of the Board of Regents. Here is an email/call-template for graduate students and contact list to use if you need.
- Spread the word: Tell your GT friends, colleagues, lab mates, and faculty advisors to sign on to the petition and raise the concerns with their bosses or use this generic call script to advocate on your behalf.
Where can I find more information about the proposed increases?
Currently, the Georgia Tech SHIP is external to the USG SHIP provided to all institutions, specifically negotiated through the advocacy of Graduate Students and the support of GT administration for the campus to reduce costs and increase services. Although this plan has been approved by the USG for many years, the USG is proposing to dissolve the independent Georgia Tech SHIP and consolidate to a single plan available for all institutions in the 2021-2022 year.
The concerns regarding these proposals are wide, but here are some primary points:
- all unified plans remove Georgia Tech’s included dental and vision coverage and replace it with an optional USG dental plan that costs $360 per year
- all proposed options increase Georgia Tech premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums for this overall lower service coverage.
- worst-case proposals include increases of $224 to the Premium, $250 to Deductible, and $2600 to Out-of-Pocket Maximum
Other repercussions regarding the impacts on the on-campus health centers such as Stamps, DePoe, and Tech Dentistry are possible, but Grad SGA and the Georgia Tech administration have been advocating fervently to the USG stakeholders for Georgia Tech to remain on its own plan. We fear these changes could result in the closure or reduced services at these on-campus providers.
The Grad SGA Graduate Student Senate (GSS) passed a resolution on March 2nd in opposition to the proposed SHIP consolidation, which can be seen here, to ensure that the USG understands the magnitude of the impact of changes on Georgia Tech Graduate Students.
Please know that your access to affordable healthcare and financial well-being are top priorities of ours, so I want to thank you for your time and consideration.
In Progress and Service,
Graduate Student Body President
Lea Harris, Graduate SGA President and Brielle Lonsberry, Undergraduate SGA President met with administrators to discuss the mandatory student fee proposal for the 2021-2022 academic year. They worked with the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee (MSFAC), to prepare a thoughtful and balanced recommendation.
The Committee’s recommendation was carefully considered alongside other available and relevant information including the joint SGA statement on the fee recommendation. In addition to University System of Georgia guidance, reduced spending due to remote activities during the current year and the potential for additional federal funding to support Higher Education during the Covid-19 pandemic provided a path for bridging the Student Center and Student Activity proposed fee increases through Fiscal Year 2022. Based on this information, the President submitted a recommendation for no fee increases or adjustments in Fiscal Year 2022, consistent with the Chancellor’s memo dated December 2, 2020. Kelly Fox, Executive Vice President for Administration & Finance, agreed with Brielle and Lea’s approach to maintain the current overall fee level while shifting fee levels and revenue to fees that provide the greatest benefit to the students. Kelly anticipates a need for increases in Fiscal Year 2023 for both fees. Administrators will work to balance fee increases with other fee decreases while meeting the needs and expectations of the student community.
Good Morning Graduate Yellow Jackets,
I want to take a moment and thank you all for your continued efforts in keeping this campus safe while you do research, take classes, and teach classes. You all continue to set an amazing example as a collective in how to keep our community safe!
Graduate SGA Report and Upcoming Campus-Wide Events:
Although this year has been quite different, the Graduate Student Government Association has continued to advocate on behalf of graduate students and has prepared an Executive Review for the Summer and Fall 2020 Semesters. I encourage you to take a moment to review the breadth of advocacy being done on campus in the document attached or accessed online here. Please continue to reach out using the Grad SGA Contact Us page here or email email@example.com to ensure we include your concerns in our advocacy or answer your questions.
If you are looking for professional development or opportunities to show off your research, please consider joining the Career, Research, and Innovation Development Conference, CRIDC 2021. All the events are just around the corner (February 8-12, All-Virtual), and you can learn more about it at grad.gatech.edu/cridc!
Academic Course Mode and Expectation Message:
There are a few important points I want to mention regarding the concerns we’ve been hearing about the academic modes and expectations.
- Last week, Provost Steve McLaughlin conveyed to faculty that they should continue to communicate their expectations to students regarding changes to syllabi or course modes expectations. He also asked that they continue to adhere to the course modes as set in Canvas.
- If you have questions about the course mode, it is recommended that you first discuss it with your instructor. For academic concerns that cannot be resolved directly with the instructor, your school associate chair or director of studies should be contacted. If unresolved, you may also contact Kyla Ross, assistant vice provost for Advocacy and Conflict Resolution through the link here.
- Questions and concerns related to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines may also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, at any time you can go to sga.gatech.edu to view all of GSGA’s resources and communications and feel free to follow us on social media to stay up to date with campus news.
As a reminder, please continue to be safe on and off-campus, test frequently, and take advantage of the resources and events happening across campus for everyone. Take care of yourselves and have a wonderful week.
In Progress and Service,
Graduate Student Body President
Joint Statement of the Student Representatives of the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee
January 13, 2021
As Student Representatives of the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee(MSFAC),we met with the four Faculty and Staff Representatives of MSFAC earlier today to vote on our recommendations for mandatory student fee levels in Fiscal Year 2022.
The ongoing negative fiscal and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic strengthens our desire to keep higher education affordable. Supporting our efforts, Chancellor Wrigley formally charged University System of Georgia schools to not increase the total amount of mandatory
student fees and to push even harder than past years toward maintaining an affordable college experience. The Committee’s recommendations meet both Chancellor Wrigley’s charge and our own goal.
Throughout this year’s Committee meetings, both the Student Center Operations Fee and the Student Activity Fee arose as potential recipients of a fee increase. The new Student Center is scheduled to open for the Fall 2022 semester, following the opening of the Exhibition Hall back in June 2020. A total Student Center Fee increase of $25 is requested to fully open this new building. Additionally, participation in registered student organization activities continues to grow to record-high levels, and the SAF provides critical funding to many of these organizations. To better serve these organizations, and considering the adoption of the new Registered Student Organization Policy, a Student Activity Fee increase $10 is requested.
To hold with our view that the aggregate fee level should not be raised, the Committee worked to offset the two fee increases with reallocation from at least one other fee. Following analysis and discussion, the Athletics Fee was identified as a candidate for reallocation, and a total decrease of $17.50 from the Athletics Fee is requested. We recognize and value the great benefits both students and the Institute receive from the Athletics Department, and we are committed to minimizing the negative consequences from this decrease for Georgia Tech Athletics. Therefore, we propose and ask for support of a staggered increase of the Student Center Operations Fee and the Student Activities Fee over Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 to allow for a staggered decrease of the Athletics Fee over the same time period.
Accordingly, this Committee voted to approve the following changes to the mandatory student fees for Fiscal Year 2022:
- Increase the Student Activity Fee by +$5 to a total of $45 starting Fall 2021.
- Increase the Student Center Operations Fee by +$12.50 to a total of $44.50 starting Spring 2022.
- Decrease the Athletics Fee by -$5 to a total of $122 starting Fall 2021 and by -$12.50 to a total of $109.50 starting Spring 2022.
- Preserve all other fee levels.
In addition, absent the power to make prospective decisions for Fiscal Year 2023, the Committee recommends the future members of the 2021 Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee and President Cabrera pursue the following changes to complete the full increase for both the Student Center Operations and the Student Activity Fees:
- Increase the Student Activity Fee by +$5 to a total of $55 starting Fall 2022.
- Increase the Student Center Operations Fee by +$12.50 to a total of $57 starting Fall 2022.
- Decrease the Athletics Fee by -$17.50 to a total of $92 starting Fall 2022.
In the scenario that no fee increase is approved, the intention of the committee is that corresponding offsets from the Athletics Fee not be approved either.
The Committee reiterates our deep belief that the burden of mandatory student fees should be minimized for all Georgia Tech students in this upcoming fiscal year and for years to come. When considering proposals for new student fees and increases to existing student fees, we urge departments and offices to support a holistic approach to funding units’ needs by seeking alternative funding sources or exploring fee reallocation to ensure the overall student fee burden is not increased.
In Progress and Service,
Marc Muehlberg, MSFAC Co-Chair
Lea Harris, Graduate Student Body President
Brielle Lonsberry, Undergraduate Student Body President
Stephen Eick, Graduate Student Representative
Divyesh Gutta, Undergraduate Student Representative
Chandler Thornhill, Graduate Student Representative
Elena Patel, Undergraduate Student Representative
Tolga Ustuner, Undergraduate Student Representative