Sep 19, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
Last night, after a campus vigil for Scout Schultz, a group of approximately 50 protesters marched to the Georgia Tech Police Department. One police vehicle was damaged and two officers suffered minor injuries.
The event spurred some students to wonder how they could bring the community together in response. Their initial idea: If there was damage to campus from the protests or vandalism, cleanup efforts would be needed.
“We didn’t know the extent of any damage since we were all staying inside,” said Maggie Kelley, a fifth-year public policy major, “but we wanted to make students feel comfortable since we figured classes would be in session today.”
Andrew Hennessy, a first-year industrial design and computer science major, started a Facebook group called Clean Up Georgia Tech to galvanize students. When the students realized cleanup had mostly been done, they pivoted to focus on bringing positivity to campus, renaming the group Helping Hands @ Georgia Tech. The group, which Hennessey started around 11:30 p.m., garnered 700 members in a matter of minutes.
“It wasn’t just a passive response,” Hennessy said. “These people wanted to mobilize to do something.”
This morning, Hennessy, Kelley, and a number of other students met on Tech Walk to set up tables and a place where students can write notes to Scout Schultz’s family and friends, the Georgia Tech Police Department, or the campus at large. The student leaders provided writing materials, as well as chalk to write notes of encouragement on campus sidewalks. Supplies were also provided by the Student Center Programs Council, Counseling Center, LGBTQIA Resource Center, and Department of Housing.
“We want to show that the violence on campus last night is not what Georgia Tech is about,” Kelley said. “We’re a campus that cares about the human condition.”
As a first-year student, Hennessy has only been on campus for a matter of weeks. Still, he found himself searching for solutions.
“I want to learn as much about my environment and context as I can,” he said. “I knew creating a Facebook group would be the fastest way to reach and engage a lot of people.”
Tonight, at its meeting of the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR), the Student Government Association (SGA) will present a resolution about what has transpired on campus since the shooting. All UHR meetings begin with an open forum at 7:30 p.m., where students have an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions.
“It’s a safe space where people can listen and be heard,” said Sujay Peramanu, undergraduate SGA president.
Ben Rapsas, a biomedical engineering major and SGA representative, was encouraged by the responses he’s seen from students so far today.
“We have dedicated and passionate students who are here for the community and each other,” he said. “It shows potential. We’ve started a lot of conversations that I think will be positive down the line.”
The Counseling Center has expanded its hours on Wednesday, Sept. 20, and Thursday, Sept. 21. from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To read campus statements issued about the week’s events, visit gatech.edu/campus-response.