The Georgia Tech Progressive Student Alliance has a message for university leaders.
As part of a movement its members call #ScoutAhead, the student group issued a series of demands on its website and Facebook page today in light of the recent death of Tech student Scout Schultz, who used the singular they pronoun. Schultz was shot by campus police on Sept. 16.
“It is our love for Georgia Tech and its community that compels us to seek these changes. We will not abide the deaths of more of our community members. We need to confront these issues now as a community, together. The greatest tragedy of Scout Schultz’s death will be if no change comes of it and more community members die senseless deaths,” the demand letter reads.
Tech PSA’s demands fall under the categories of mental health, support for the LGBT community and police reform. They are directed to Tech President Bud Peterson, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, campus police and the greater Tech community. The group has planned an on-campus rally Oct. 5 to address the administration’s response to the demands.
“[Sept. 16] was a tragedy. To prevent any further tragedies, we need to take immediate action to correct our institutional failures,” the letter says. “We believe that our four reasonable demands will rectify these failures and create both a GTPD that is better equipped to manage further incidents and a more informed and involved community.”
The letter requests gender-inclusive housing — which “is immediately established with the use of a survey asking ‘are you OK with having a roommate with a gender identity other than yourself;’” deeming all single-stall bathrooms as gender-neutral; training healthcare professionals and faculty on campus on working with LGBT patients; and providing ways for students to ensure their gender identity is affirmed in university communications.
A central facet of the discussion surrounding Schultz’s death was that they allegedly called the police on themselves, saying an individual with a knife and possibly a gun was on campus. Suicide notes were found in Schultz’s room, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“Scout committed suicide, and students have received inadequate help from campus mental health services,” the demands letter reads. “Scout was shot by a GTPD officer, and we need to provide resources that encourage officers to safely de-escalate similar situations in the future.”
In the realm of mental health, Tech PSA requests additional funding for 27 full-time, qualified counselors by the end of the school year; removing limitations on the number of counseling sessions students may undergo; increase awareness of the “Let’s Talk” program and implement a safe space program; and provide students studying abroad access to mental health professionals.
“Students should not have to reach a breaking point in order to receive mental health services,” the statement reads. “There must be resources in place to stop students from reaching a braking point in the first place.”
And though it was a Tech officer who shot Schultz, Tech PSA says it does not blame any individual for their death.
“We see Scout’s death as a result of institutional failures that must immediately be addressed to prevent a similar event from ever occurring again,” the letter reads.
To do that, Tech PSA believes police should be immediately equipped with and trained in the use of non-lethal tools such as tasers, and introduce “mandatory comprehensive training for every officer” before they enter the field, including for the 67 officers on the force who do not have crisis intervention training. Monthly town hall meetings between the Tech community and the police force were also requested, as were changes to GTENS, the emergency alert system used at Georgia Tech.
Tech PSA asks that the student center include a LGBTQIA+ center that will serve as a study and event space. They request it be named for Schultz.
The full text of the Georgia Tech Progressive Student Association’s letter of demands can be found below.