Georgia Tech University is getting heat after the inauguration of 83rd Governor of Georgia. Unlike previous governor’s, Brian Kemp chose Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion as the site of his swearing-in ceremony. The university’s choice to allow the event to go on has led many of its students to question the principles of school administration as well as those of the student body.
“It makes me feel like our administration doesn’t care about what many of its students want,” said Georgia Tech student, Vathsan Ramprakash. “We all want to see social change on and off campus, but it seems our institution has other priorities.”
Students are asking questions: What made Kemp choose to be sworn in on the Georgia Tech college campus? What does this say about the university’s values that they so graciously hosted him?
“By and large, students were exasperated,” stated Georgia Tech student, Sumter Alton. “Practically no one wanted Kemp here, even politically uninvolved students. Students are tired of being mistreated and ignored by administrators and politicians, and this is just another example.”
In years past, Georgia Governors have chosen neutral territory for these ceremonies. Kemps predecessor, Nathan Deal, decided to hold his inauguration ceremony inside of the State Capitol. In 2015 after he had won re-election, Deal held his second inauguration at Liberty Plaza steps from the State Capitol. Before Deal, Sonny Purdue, the 81st Governor of Georgia and the first Republican governor of the state since 1872, chose Philips Arena for the site of his big day.
However, on Georgia Tech’s campus, it’s not the first time the university has affiliated itself with the Republican party. Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the keynote speaker for the graduating class of 2018 and Senator David Perdue came to Georgia Tech before the 2016 election to endorse Brian Kemp. Video later surfaced of Purdue snatching a phone from a Georgia Tech student in a heated confrontation.
“That’s U.S. Senator David Perdue. U.S. Senator David Perdue just snatched my phone because he won’t answer a question from one of his constituents,” the student then says in the recorded video. “He’s trying to leave. He’s trying to leave because he won’t answer why he’s endorsing a candidate who’s trying to purge people from voting on the basis of their race.“
After the incident, Purdue’s office responded stating, “The senator spoke with many students and answered questions on a variety of topics. In this instance, the senator clearly thought he was being asked to take a picture, and he went to take a selfie as he often does. When he realized they didn’t actually want to take a picture, he gave the phone back.”
Students say the biggest reason for questioning concern about Georgia Tech’s gracious hosting of the inaugural address: Kemp’s connections to voter suppression laws and those politicians who supported the then-secretary of state.
“Brian Kemp failed to uphold his prior duties as Secretary of State by choosing to use his position to suppress people’s abilities to vote rather than make voting accessible to all citizens,” Said Arilla Ventura, a representative of the YDSA.
The exact match law is a system established in Georgia by Kemp in 2017 that compares one’s social security information and their driver’s license. Last year, only a month before the midterm election, 53,000 voter applications were being held by Kemp’s administration, 70 percent of which were black applicants.
Georgia Tech administrator, Laura Diamond, told Georgia Voice that the school had no official role in the inaugural activities. However, many still criticize the political ethics of the Georgia Tech’s administration and how this has affected the atmosphere of the university’s students.
Georgia Voice reached out to the Kemp Administration for comment but have not received a response.