Page 1

MARCH 6 - MARCH 13, 2018

VOL. 85 | NO. 23












This year’s candidates have begun campaigning and we’ve got the scoop on their stances and goals.

Listen to your representative hopefuls, and vote for the people that will vouch for you next year.

You better get started on the internship applications to boost your resume.

No. 2 seed Panthers have good shot at Sun Belt’s automatic NCAA bid.



News 3




Arts & Living 9

Sports 15

Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration

Top 30 in the world


Robinson develops hospitality leaders in a global society Do you see yourself in the largest service industry in the world? Country Club General Manager Restaurant Manager

Event planner Convention Sales Manager Hotel Manager

If you checked yes to any of these, we’re ready to help you find a career in hospitality. Our academic programs include: › Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management › Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Hospitality Administration › Undergrad minor in Hospitality Administration › Certificate in Hospitality Administration

Interested in learning more or staying connected:

Are you ready to join us? › Study abroad hospitality programs › Experiential learning opportunities › Mentoring from industry leaders › Scholarship opportunities 404-413-7615 @GSUHospitality @GSUHospitality Come see us! 35 Broad Street NW, Suite 315 Atlanta, GA 30303


MIT SHAH CEO & Senior Managing Principal Noble Investment Group


ARNE SORENSON President & CEO Marriott International


Financial Aid’s “student-centered” approach New VP James Blackburn outlines department’s initiatives CHRISTINA MAXOURIS Editor-in-Chief


ames Blackburn, the brand new vice president of Student Financial Services, took over Georgia State’s struggling department in August 2017, and kicked it into high gear to bring about some serious changes. There wasn’t a shortage of challenges that needed to be addressed. At the start of each semester, students flooded the department with questions about financial aid deadlines, refunds and involuntary class drops. Blackburn said financial aid took a “student-centered” approach to ensure that the entire student body was getting the answers they needed. “What we use is what we call the ‘I care’ model, and we focus on the interactions with the students, the capabilities of our financial aid offices, student account offices of serving the needs of the students,” Blackburn said. “We’re highly focused on attitude, responsiveness to student questions, both reactive and proactive. We want to be more on the proactive side. And then all that sits on this bed of focus on operational excellence, doing what we say we do very effectively, efficiently and with a great agility.” He said that’s the model he offered to Georgia State is an initiative that’s almost unique among universities. Blackburn said that, because of regulations set by the Department of Education, a lot of financial aid offices across the nation run under process-centric techniques. “Schools put processes in place to make sure they’re compliant and everything works within that process. What we’re trying to do is shift that. Still be compliant, but really have a focus on students.” For example, Blackburn said, Georgia State works with students to prevent unnecessary drops from courses, resulting from financial aid delays. “This spring we took the approach of, if the student is working with us, we’re working with the student. We have gone well beyond what a lot of universities would do. In most cases, what I’ve seen is, if you don’t make your payment by the payment deadline, you’re dropped from class,” he said. But Georgia State is now trying to personally approach students that are late on payment deadlines and come up with solutions. “We were calling students that were missing documents, sending emails out to students that would say, ‘Hey, please submit this documentation.’ Even though the payment deadline has dropped, do



The Financial Aid team recently trained their front-line staff on answering more questions faster.

not stop going to class, continue working with us, and this is part of the student-focused approach, to where we are trying to work with the students,” Blackburn said. The new approach, and adding phone capacity, allowed financial aid to help an additional 14 percent of students in the spring semester.


Blackburn said a top priority on his list of goals has been better communicating the financial aid process to the student body. “Navigation within the financial aid process is easy to those in the profession but difficult to those who are just trying to get through school,” he said. Major delays throughout the rush periods often had students complaining about the department. Blackburn said the reason behind delays in financial aid responses came from a many-to-one kind of system. Students would bring up questions and concerns to the help desk that often required more than a simple one-session answer. But those requests had to go through a middle man, a manager or a supervisor who would look into their systems, approve the request, and provide answers for the student. “We saw that was causing a delay,” Blackburn said. In response, the department took the

middle section out. “Now the financial aid team has direct access to that inventory and goes in and gets it every day. So that speeds up the time of getting to a solution, so that students don’t have to come in as often.” That bumped down the average response rate for the financial aid department to three days this past spring, for the most complicated cases. In January, all other questions took an average of 1.6 days to receive an answer. Blackburn said there’s also been a focus in educating the student body on navigating the financial aid system on their own. In response to that, financial aid launched the Pounce FAFSA campaign shortly after spring break. “We had Pounce come over, take a few still shots in our offices, going through the financial aid process... You’ll be able to--if you piece all those social media pieces together and put them all in one storyboard-- find Pounce going through the financial aid process,” he said. Another initiative for student financial literacy is Financial Aid TV, which Blackburn said would be soon added to the website. Financial Aid TV are “60 to 90-second spots that talk about a variety of different financial aid topics. We want to not only add them to our website. We want to put them on social media posts, put them on our communications.” Finally, the department is gearing towards an interactive workshop series set to launch in April or May, Financial L.E.A.P.S. (Learn, Evaluate, Act, and Plan for Students). The workshop would go through topics within financial aid with students, and evaluate their usefulness by checking on students’ progress 30 to 60 days after the workshop.


Blackburn said from now on, the department is seeking to make the first contact with the student body instead of waiting on student submissions. While in the past, they’ve waited for students to submit an application for

financial aid, they’re now making the money available beforehand. “What we’re doing this semester for the summer semester is, when the student registers for classes, we see the registration come through and what we’re doing is offering the financial aid for the student. And then the student can go from there. They can accept the financial aid, or if they don’t want it, they decline it,” he said. And to make sure students stay in the loop, financial aid has hopped on the social media train. “I think we have to be where students are watching. Starting with our Facebook pages, we have just brought in Hootsuite, so we’re not only posting on social media, but we’re also monitoring social media accounts…[to] respond to students that might have a question or concern.” The department also partnered up with students to conduct focus groups and come up with new solutions when it comes to refunds. Financial Aid is considering breaking up student refunds, if the student opts to do so, in smaller amounts over two-week periods. “That helps you pay your bills, your expenses, and helps kind of force a little bit of budgeting in there. And so far, there’s been a lot of support for the idea, and we’re going to continue to get more information from students and then we’re going to try to launch that sometime this calendar year,” Blackburn said.

GOT QUESTIONS? Panther Answer allows you to search for answers concerning enrollment, registration, student records, financial aid and student accounts.



The Student Government Association is preparing for the 2018 SGA debates, to be held March 20 and 21 at 6:00 p.m. The Signal will be asking the questions, putting the candidates to the test on their stances and proposed initiatives to combat university-wide issues and topics of concern. Come out to the debates, hear your candidates’ ideas and #pickyourleaders.






1. What makes you the best candidate for president? During my entire career within SGA, my main concern has been for the students and doing everything in my power to improve every student's welfare across Georgia State University. I believe that the primary goal of SGA is to represent each student voice no matter the issue and to make the life of each student easier. Since the consolidation, I am the only Presidential candidate who has had experience within both Perimeter and Atlanta’s campuses and student government organizations. Due to this experience, I am in a unique position where I understand the problems which plague both Perimeter and Atlanta students and have worked and am currently working towards solving these specific issues. I love this university and the students within it, my goal is to give back more than I can ever hope to gain and as President of SGA, I promise to continue to accomplish my aim to serve.

1. What makes you the best candidate for president? While my two opponent candidates are intelligent and passionate about GSU, I am the best candidate because I am dedicated to my constituents and understand the importance of solutions as quickly as possible. I know the effort that this role and you deserve; I intend on serving to that extent. My background as a Computer Science student will allow me to find innovative ways to solve student body problems effectively using current technology. Additionally, using an attitude of entrepreneurship, I can create solutions and grow them into viable programs. These skills combined will allow SGA to upgrade our ability of services. I plan on increasing methods and availability for students to interact with Student Government Association. If successful, these techniques will innovate how SGA works on initiatives and allow students to re-align our goals to their needs.

1. What makes you the best candidate for president? I can say that, as a candidate, I am completely and utterly in love with working in our student government. I want to show students of this university a president who is truly in love with the work they are assigned and wishes to continue to serve the very people who helped them along the way.During my time in SGA, I made sure to assist wherever I could and provide a helping hand to every person. I love helping students and helping [them] to navigate their journeys. It’s awesome! Honestly, the best way we get to know people is simply by saying five words: “How can I help you?” SGA to me stands for Service Guiding and Altruism!

2. How will you ensure that you are representing the student bodies from all 6 Georgia State campuses? During my Presidency, I plan on making sure that I visit each and every campus across Georgia State at least once a month in order to talk to the students and hear their concerns.The trips I plan to take to each campus will consist of sitting in on an SGA meeting, attending a campus event, or talking to students in a town hall setting. I also plan on meeting with each Executive Vice President from each campus to discuss the problems our students might be having. A key part of making sure that every campus is represented would be in making sure that all seats within the legislature are filled with capable senators whose main mission is serving the students. As President, this is one of the goals I will work towards in order to make sure every student's voice is being heard. Lastly, I plan on conducting a brief University-wide survey from SGA a semester which will ask students questions pertaining to their campus, Georgia State, and ideas of improvement.

2. How will you ensure that you are representing the student bodies from all 6 Georgia State campuses? I will ensure that I am representing our entire student body by continuing the conversations and commitment of mobile office hours across campuses. I will also increase communication between campuses with the development of an internet archive in regards to initiatives, how far along they’ve come, and those involved with the initiative. This type of tool would allow us to be more connected and keep SGA more accountable. I understand that these two actions will not ensure representation for the entire student body across multiple campuses; however, I also understand that not every campus is the same. Thus, I am committed to personalizing the experience towards creating the best solutions for each individual campus while also creating university-wide progress. I know that I will be available for every student regardless of campus because that is what Georgia State University students deserve; you can count on me.

2. How will you ensure that you are representing the student bodies from all 6 Georgia State campuses? One of the best things to come out of President Gray’s tenure was his implementation of mobile office hours and his active involvement on EVERY Georgia State Campus. I plan to not only uphold these traditions of mobile office hours and altruistic tactic, but I will also take time to listen to the voices of students who are not just full time. Georgia State sees a large amount of non-traditional students who are returning to school in order to increase their opportunities in life. Sixtytwo percent of students on the NEW, ALP, DUN, DEC, CLK campuses are part-time, so they may not get to actively engage with SGA. Many people are struggling just to get to work and back. It’s important that we still reach these students to find ways to expedite their education so they can graduate faster. I also plan to introduce a monthly “SGA Support Group” initiative on all campuses, giving students who are stressed the opportunity to vent about personal issues they face. Sitting in on these meetings will not only give me a better idea of what’s happening on each campus but also give students the chance to feel like they have support.


What on-campus issues would you tackle first as Executive Vice President?






On campus issues that are first on my list are parking, advising and students knowing helpful information about their respective colleges. This next year, I want us to shift gears and figure out how to open up more parking for commuter students. Advising has been an issue plaguing Georgia State since I’ve been here. As Executive Vice President I will make sure that advising is an issue tackled but the next administration. Finally I want SGA to help in informing students more about the opportunities available in their respective colleges.

The overall goal is the elevate and sustain the quality of life for every student by addressing key issues such as campus safety, specifically harassment, addressing the conflicting thoughts on the campus carry law, a cleaner campus and classrooms, better meal options all around campus, create and encourage a greener and environmentally friendly campus create more opportunities for students to express their interests and hobbies in ways that can benefit themselves, the students, and the community as a whole.

We’ve encountered issues regarding class availability and lack of pathway and academic advisement, which I plan to solve by forming a Perimeter College Academic Concerns Committee  comprised of two students, SGA representatives, professors, and department heads. I will work to be more accessible to students by holding frequent SGA booths where students can talk with SGA representatives about any concerns. Social issues, such as mental health and sexual misconduct, have also been a top priority for President Gray and Dunwoody EVP Calixte. I also found that we need to promote our college resources such as Handshake, [and] organize events that will help students polish their resume and navigate Handshake and other resources.

As EVP the issues that are most important are for our students safety. A recent incident at Clarkston that should have never happened when some students' safety were threatened by an individual that was not a student. This incident along with others, including petty thefts on campus demonstrate the need for tighter security.

This candidate did not respond to The Signal's inquiries by press time.


What on-campus issues would you tackle first as Executive Vice President?





My most important goal for speaker is to get more student body participation. In a lot of other schools, the student government officials are very known and participate in a lot of activities while getting to know their constituents. They also have the opportunity to hear their voices while at these events. So I will make it is my goal to work with the senators and create more events that students will be interested in.

My biggest goal as Speaker is to increase participation in SGA. Going into this election season, all eight graduate seats and three undergraduate seats at the Atlanta campus have zero candidates running for them. As a graduate student myself, I understand the challenges of balancing a leadership role on campus with my own academic goals. I hope to make the administrative side of SGA more efficient and to provide more planning resources to Senators tackling initiatives.

My most important goal as Speaker of the Senate is to be a voice on behalf of the students, faculty/staff that have concerns or want to see change happen on their campus in order to promote a safer, healthier, and [more] inviting environment.

This candidate did not respond to The Signal's inquiries by press time.



























SGA debates MARCH 20 & 21, 2018


The New Opium War Chinese drugs kill Americans by the millions



JAMES FOX Staff Reporter

James is a journalism major on the Downtown campus. He likes MMA and being outdoors. When he can’t get outside he spends his free time reading and writing. He grew up in East Atlanta and loves his city.

Tweet JAMES!


ead bodies are piling up in the streets of Atlanta because of a deadly, ultrapowerful opioid called Fentanyl. In recent weeks, Trump has called for an end to the Fentanyl trade. Richard Baum, the acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said “We’re [China and the US] cooperating. We are trading information about what’s happening. They are banning substances [and] we are. We’re working together at the UN.” Most Fentanyl in the US comes from China, the world’s largest manufacturer of thedrug. Fentanyl production is widely unregulated in China. According to the DEA, smaller batches of highpotency fentanyl are flown into Mexico where it is sold to cartels. The cartels dilute and smuggle it into America. Fentanyl is about 50 times stronger than heroin, so the lethal dose for a naïve user is around three milligrams. That’s about the size of a grain of salt. It’s also very easy to smuggle into the country, because 100 doses can fit in a dime bag. With the world’s largest airport, Atlanta is absolutely flooded with the junk. According to the CDC, there were about 1,300 overdose deaths a month in Georgia since 2016. From 2014-2015, there was a 72% increase of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids like Fentanyl. The number of overdose deaths from Fentanyl surpassed painkillers and heroin for the first time in history just last year. If you know anybody using these or other drugs, don’t wait to seek help. Signs of Fentanyl use include vomiting, constipation, itching, hallucinations, and the inability to breathe. It’s possible that Fentanyl is being used as a form of chemical warfare that just-so- happens to be profitable. China is a very powerful competitor against the US in manufacturing. American industry has been outsourced to China, leaving the working class without jobs. Mass opioid use destabilizes the nation and demoralizes the people. Opioids are the deadliest drugs known to man, but overdoses are just one consequence of rising opioid use. The socio-economic impacts are undeniably bad. It’s

a very expensive habit. Addicts piss away their hard earned money chasing the high. They’re slaves of an artificially feeling—everything else takes a backseat. School, work, your future, and your family all get neglected. Getting high is priority number one. Withdrawals are so intense Fentanyl addicts often turn to crime to just to get their next fix. Whether it’s shoplifting or armed robbery, a dry junky will do whatever it takes to get money. The dealers just sit back and rake in the cash. This isn’t completely unreasonable, as the US did the same thing to China back in the 1800s. The Fentanyl trade is a multi-million dollar industry comparable to the opium trade in China prior to the breakout of the Opium Wars. Opium is a drug that is very similar to Fentanyl, and is the namesake of the opiate or opioid class of drugs. During the height of Western imperialism in the 1850s, China met with the US and Great Britain to sign what are now called the “unequal treaties.” These treaties essentially gave the US full rights to sell opium in China, despite its illegality. When China resisted, Great Britain opened fire on Chinese ports and ships in the First Opium War. The Chinese were forced to reopen trade with Great Britain on British terms. This meant that British representatives, who had no interest in regulating the sale of opium, would take care of customs services in inspecting imports and trying lawbreakers. The US saw what Britain did as an opportunity and hopped on it soon after. It’s a shameful part of American history, but the modern day parallels between the opium trade of the 1800s and the modern opioid trade are undeniable. The Chinese government has finally started taking steps to crack down on the manufacture and export of Fentanyl. After Trump called out China, the Chinese government made Fentanyl and many related compounds controlled substances. Earlier this year two Chinese traffickers were charged with producing Fentanyl to sell via the Internet. The dark web has a booming market where all sorts of illegal things are bought and sold—from drugs to guns, and even prostitutes. The US isn’t guiltless here,

either. The biggest drug exported from the US to China is methamphetamines, which causes similar socio- economic issues to opioids on Chinese soil. Hopefully, over the next few years, the US and China can come to an agreement and curb our massive problems with the drug trade. While the use of any opioids can be fatal, Fentanyl is especially deadly because users are often unaware they’re taking it. Dealers use it to “step on” heroin because Fentanyl is cheaper and more readily available. Suppliers press counterfeit pills laced with Fentanyl in clandestine labs. “Yeah, I’ve taken some [in pills]. It tastes like cardboard,” an anonymous freshman at Georgia State said. He also said he knew three people who died from overdoses since last year (RIP Sam Crawford). So if you’re thinking about buying some Xans, Percs, or any other prescription drugs illegally, realize it could be a death sentence. The death of Lil Peep is a tragic example of what can happen when someone ingests Fentanyl unwittingly. Hours before he was found dead, Lil Peep posted a video on Instagram where he said “I just took six Xanax. I’m lit, I’m good, I’m not sick. I’ma see y’all tonight.” The toxicology report states the cause of death was an overdose on Xanax and Fentanyl. So no matter how much respect you have, you never know what you’re really buying from the streets. Drug dealers do not care if you live or die— they just care about getting your money. Don’t buy drugs from shady fools, and if you’re selling drugs take a minute to think about the damage you’re doing to the people around you. Look at the kids you’ve sent to the hospital from an overdose, or think about where all their money came from. You caused some kid to take shit out his mom’s purse or stick up some lady, all for what? Some cash? You have to realize selling drugs leaves a trail of destruction in your wake. It’ll just land you in some ghetto with sleepless nights as you worry about twelve hauling your ass off to some hole where you belong. Quit now.




EDITORIAL This SGA election season, #pickyourleaders Come listen to SGA leader hopefuls on their goals for next year


he Student Government Association (SGA) is prepping for their annual series of debates, readying to challenge each other as The Signal throws rounds of questions on the latest and most contested issues on campus. But for those of you new to the campus, you may be wondering - what is SGA? And why do these debates matter to you? Much like the country’s political leadership, SGA is responsible for creating legislation and resolutions that ultimately improve the student body’s experience. The association serves as the liaison between the university’s president, Mark Becker, and you. SGA has the power to escalate a topic of interest up to the president’s attention and promote initiatives that benefit the student body. In recent months, The Signal has reported on significant legislation SGA has championed at Georgia State. On March 1, The Signal published an article regarding the university’s failed faculty diversity initiative from 2011. When the initiative ended in 2016,

diversity among faculty had barely changed. After discussion between faculty and SGA boards, the issue was escalated to President Becker, who created a new diversity committee for the university. And in a nod to commuter students, SGA successfully passed a bill to increase the number of microwaves on campus after many began to disappear due to the end of Georgia State’s vending contract. SGA is a powerful resource for the campus to voice their opinions to those that can make change, and these debates shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your future leaders will be debating in front of you on March 20 and 21, and it’s up to you who wins. That’s why this year, The Signal chose #pickyourleaders as the promotional slogan for this debate - to remind you of the power you hold to choose your campus representation. Most of these candidates are students that aren’t new to the university’s senate tables. They are familiar with the initiatives passed in 2017; and as senators, they’ve had the chance to hear and act on your concerns.

It is your vote that determines who you will hold accountable, and who you trust to follow through. As with any political representation, we encourage you to hold your representatives accountable to their promises. It’s most important here on campus, where legislation and initiatives directly impact your student life. It is up to you who will sit at the senate table in the future, and who you will count on to represent you. Your voice sets the groundwork for your leaders’ agenda. You are the change that the world not only desires to see, but also needs. Watch the debates, listen to their arguments and VOTE. The debates will be hosted by two news reporters of The Signal who will tackle issues including SGA accountability and action; student safety; and concerns illustrated by the student body and student media. While we will ask many questions from The Signal, the floor will be open for your input throughout the debate. Plan to attend, bring your questions and get ready to #pickyourleaders.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Christina Maxouris

executive editor (atlanta) Open executive editor (perimeter) Open Editorial NEWS EDITOR Open ASSociate NEWS EDITOR Open OPINIONS EDITOR Open ARTS & LIVING EDITOR Open

ASSociate ARTS & Living EDITOr Samuel Puckett SPORTS EDITOR Jerell Rushin ASSociate SPORTS EDITOR D’Mitri Chin copy editors Alaa Elassar, Sydnie Cobb

Production production design editor Khoa Tran

Associate production design editor Salinna Phon

PHOTOGRAPHY photo EDITOr (atlanta) Vanessa Johnson

photo EDITOr (perimeter) Open

ASSociate photo editor Julian Pineda

Digital online EDITOR Danny Varitek ASSociate Online Editor Open PODCAST EDITORS Caleb P. Smith, Charles Wright

Marketing Marketing MANAGER Open promotions associate Chynna Terrell Research Associate Open



The Signal shall provide, in a fair and accurate manner, news of interest and significance to the Georgia State University community and serve as a forum for the expression of ideas of members of that community. Furthermore, The Signal shall provide an opportunity for students to pursue experience within a professional newspaper environment. The Signal shall also provide truthful and ethical advertising of interest to the Georgia State University community.

ADVERTISING The deadline for all advertising is 5 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to the desired issue of publication. Ads must be print-ready and in PDF format; files must be delivered via e-mail at signaladvertisingco@ Please visit our website at www. for more information, including rates and payment methods.

COVERAGE REQUESTS Requests for coverage and tips should be submitted to the Editor in Chief and/or the relevant section editor.

SUBMIT LETTER TO EDITOR Letters must be submitted to the Opinions Editors via e-mail and must include the text of the letter in the body of the message. Letters should be 200-400 words maximum. The Signal will allow longer letters, but only in rare circumstances. Letters must include the full name(s) of the writer(s) and include their year and major. If the writer is a faculty member, they must include their title and department. Letters will be fact-checked prior to publication. The writer may be obligated to make changes to the letter for publication. Letters will be edited for grammar, clarity, length, factual accuracy and adherence to The Signal’s policy. The Signal reserves the right to modify and/ or reject letters at the discretion of the editorial staff.


Opinions and Letters to the Editor expressed in The Signal are the opinions of the writers and readers. It does not reflect the opinions of The Signal.




The Signal Student Center West, Suite 250 P.O. Box 3968 Atlanta, GA 30303 Phone: 404-413-1620 Fax: 404-413-1622 Web:


BANK-FRIENDLY LOCAL SPRING BREAK SPOTS Grab your map and pinpoint your ideal destination for a quick spring break trip AUTUMN BOEKELOO Staff Reporter


pring break is so close that you can almost taste the salt water and hear the sweet sound of the ocean while daydreaming in class. But wait—it is the first week of March and you realize you have not even decided what your plans are. Don’t worry, The Signal’s got your last-minute trip all planned out with ten locations that won’t leave your wallet empty. So, whether you are heading to these destinations for a day trip or the entire spring break, check out these inexpensive luxury locations then grab your suitcase and hit the road!


1. Blue Cove Hideaway

301 County Road 116 Riceville, TN 37303 Time from Georgia State: 2h 23m Average hotel price: $93 per night Blue Cove Hideaway is a family-owned rock quarry in the quaint town of Athens, Tennessee. This destination is ideal for adventure seekers. The rugged terrain surrounding the bright blue water is a hiker’s wonderland, with cliffs and rope swings for swimmers. When visiting the quarry, make sure to swim at your own risk and pack a pair of water shoes to avoid foot injuries on the rocks. Additionally, Blue Cove Hideaway is under new management, so they require every visitor to sign a safety waiver before entering.

2. The Smoky Mountains

107 Park Headquarters Rd Gatlinburg, TN 37738 Time from Georgia State: 3h 29m Average hotel price: $99 per night While the city of Gatlinburg saw a horrendous geographic downfall in 2016, the Smoky Mountains have since replenished and once again have become a must-see tourist attraction. The Smoky Mountains themselves are the home to many Tennessee creatures and rentable cabins, while the city below is the hot spot for visitors to take photos of the stunning scenery. Whether you are hiking in the mountains or shopping in downtown Gatlinburg, you will always have something to do at this location


1. Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach, FL 32407 Time from Georgia State: 5h 5min Average hotel price: $169 Panama City Beach is the classic inexpensive destination for the non-stop spring break partier. This southern luxury location transports visitors to a tropical paradise with just a step in the sand. Take a dip in the ocean, purchase a souvenir, or drink a cooling Pina Colada at one of the beaches many bars. No matter what you do, with music blasting and drinks pouring, the party truly never stops at this location.

Wachee is known locally for being a mermaid lover’s trip of a lifetime. Believe it or not, the shimmering blue springs are home to several mermaids that perform daily underwater shows. However, if mystical creatures aren’t your thing, kayaking and water slides are an inexpensive alternative.


1. Savannah, Georgia

Myrtle Beach, SC 29577 Time from Georgia State: 5h 38m Average hotel price: $154 per night Florida isn’t the only state with salty Atlantic Ocean beaches. Myrtle Beach, located on the coast of South Carolina, wows its visitors with amusement parks, waterparks and, of course, the gorgeous seaside. Whether you are tanning on the beach or watching the sunset on the SkyWheel, Myrtle Beach is an obvious choice for spring break entertainment.

Savannah, GA 31302 Time from Georgia State: 3h 43m Average hotel price: $102 a night Historic Savannah is the place for ghost hunters and architecture enthusiasts alike. As the Spanish moss flows chillingly in the breeze, the Victorian-style shops and bars below fill with tourists. Savannah may only be a few hours away, but the city will transport you to another dimension in history. Visitors have claimed being haunted by unwanted visitors in their hotel rooms, while others hope for a spook on the year-round ghost tours. If you visit Savannah, make sure to pack a camera to capture the superbly crafted architecture (and maybe an orb!) while strolling through the eerie- yet stunning city.

2. Historic Charleston

2. Helen


1. Myrtle Beach

188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401 Time from GSU: 4h 41m Average hotel price: $150 per night If you prefer a trip that will educate you with it’s undeniable history, historic Charleston, South Carolina, is your best bet. On site of where the Civil War began, historic Charleston is full of rich knowledge right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re taking a U.S. History class this semester, impress your professor with information you learned from this American landmark location.


1. Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores, AL 36542 Time from Georgia State: 5h 29m Average hotel price: $176 Amusement parks, zoos, and biking, oh my! Gulf Shores, Alabama, is another beach with more than just an ocean to visit. Gulf Shores impresses and keeps visitors busy with creepy doll Escape Rooms and the gigantic Waterville USA. However, keep in mind this location is a little farther away, so I would recommend planning to stay for the majority of your spring break.

Helen, GA 30545 Time from Georgia State: 1h 38m Average hotel price: $146 a night Located right off the Chattahoochee River in the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the village of Helen, Georgia. At first glance, Helen may seem like your typical small town, but in reality, the attractions in Helen are endless. This location is ideal for filling up a week-long itinerary with several different activities. From tubing down the river to mountain biking or ziplining, Helen is the picture-perfect getaway for your entire family or even a few friends. If this list does not have you ready to locate and dominate your spring break trip, nothing will. If you visit any of these locations be sure to tag us on Twitter @GSUSignalAandL or use the hashtag #TheSignalSpringBreak!

2. Cathedral Caverns

637 Cave Rd, Woodville, AL 35776 Time from Georgia State: 3h Average hotel price: $59 Bring out your inner Indiana Jones at the Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama. Surprisingly, this exotic location is the cheapest of them all to visit, with an unforgettable experience. These caves are straight out of an action movie, and will have you and your Instagram followers in awe.

2. Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Spring, Weeki Wachee, FL 34606 Time from Georgia State: 6h 21m Average hotel price: $89 Weeki Wachee Springs, located the farthest away of all the locations, is one of Florida’s hidden treasures. Weeki



BEING TRANS IN Atlanta is a special case for the LGBTQ+ community, here’s why

Housing on or off campus also isn’t the end to the hurdles the community has to overcome.


VICTOR SLEDGE Staff Reporter


utside of the protected boundaries of Georgia State and the city of Atlanta, life is completely different for a transgender individual. Atlanta holds one of the largest LGBTQ+ communities in the country, and Georgia State follows by example. The university is known for its diversity on many fronts, including sexuality and gender identity. But the people who identify as transgender and those who don’t let a binary gender system define them haven’t always had it easy in the city. Chanel Haley, Georgia Equality’s Transgender Inclusion Organizer, and a trans Georgia State student weighed in on the reality for the community inside and outside of Atlanta city lines.


For many, finding a place to live often depends on pet preferences, pricing of rent, location, and noisy neighbors. But for the transgender community in Georgia, it often comes down to the policies in place against discrimination. Atlanta is the only city in the state that has some form of protection against housing discrimination. “However, the county does not have that, nor does the state,” Haley said. For places outside the city of Atlanta, the only way to ensure protection against housing discrimination is through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD Equal Access Rule protects trans individuals, but only if it qualifies as HUDfunded housing. However, there’s no guarantee for church or private developments. According to Haley, even the protections that do exist are subject to change. “That is something the current administration is pulling back on,” she said. Other than those exceptions, housing discrimination is not only common, but entirely legal. For a trans person, private owners, and organizations such as churches providing emergency housing, have every legal right to reject them and they can do so based solely on a person’s

gender identity. Even on Georgia State’s campus, housing can be an issue. Haley explained that many university policies are questionable because while the written policy may be inclusive, it’s the implementation of that policy that really matters. Georgia State assigns housing to transgender individuals on a case-by-case basis, which is what Haley said universities often resort to in order to stay politically correct. In 2015, Georgia State introduced co-ed dorms, allowing students to live with anyone they wanted regardless of their sex. At the time, director of University Housing Marilyn De LaRoche said the decision came after repeated requests from groups on campus calling for more housing options. She told USAToday the decision came in the interest of the LGBTQ+ community. “For transgender and transsexual students, it actually offers them an environment of comfort to be rooming with people who have their same interests,” LaRoche said back in 2015. “Across the country, you have more than a 100 — maybe 125 — schools that already have this in place and has been in place for years. This is different for Georgia, but not different to the country.” The program has been a step forward for Georgia State’s trans community. The Signal spoke with a trans student about Georgia State’s gender-inclusive housing to hear how it has affected some of our trans community first hand. “The program is a little flawed,” the student said, “but at least it exists.” The student applied for gender inclusive housing, but was not able to get it after the housing overflow issue. They said that the people they talked to from the housing department were very accommodating, but there were still some issues. “I was talking about needing to get into gender inclusive housing and the person I was asking didn’t really understand what my question was,” they said. They felt like the fact that Georgia State has trans and non-binary students was lost on the housing employee. “She wasn’t rude, she just didn’t seem to understand,” they said. “She didn’t know that was a thing that we offer.” The student said they were lucky to live with accepting cisgender people of the gender the student was assigned at birth, but they have some friends that have had to deal with transphobia.

“To make it worse, there is no protection --period-- for employment outside of Atlanta,” Haley said. There is no other way to put it. If you are trans anywhere else in Georgia, an employer can choose not to hire you based off of who you are. And Georgia is no stranger to workplace discrimination. Women are paid less than men, women of color are paid less than white women, and transgender individuals are still fighting for their rights to work at all. “I think that it’s important, especially for women, to understand how strong discrimination is here in Georgia,” Haley said. And it might just be the workplace discrimination that costs Atlanta its shot at the Amazon headquarters. Last week, when the Georgia Senate passed a bill allowing adoption agencies to deny gay couples for adoption, activists turned to the corporate giant, urging Amazon to stay away from the state. According to The Chicago Tribune, advocates sent a letter to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos asking him to keep equality and workplace fairness in mind, saying that “doing best for its employees can’t including putting 50,000 of them in any of 11 final locations: Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Raleigh.” And when it comes to taking care of our transgender community, nothing requires doctors in the state to do so. Haley said that if a trans person is rushed to the hospital in critical condition, doctor’s oath requires them to save a life. However, once that person is in a stable condition, the doctor is in perfectly legal parameters to abandon the patient.


Living in the heart of the state capital, it’s easy to forget that Georgia is more than just Atlanta. There are 159 counties in Georgia. There are 180 representatives that have promised to represent us. “What people fail to remember is that you live here in Atlanta, and it’s concentrated in Democratic control, liberal control, but the rest of the state is not,” Haley explained. Rural Georgia, much like the rest of the rural South, has more traditional, conservative values, so their votes look very different from Atlanta’s. Even though Atlanta is bustling, it’s actually agriculture that brings most of the money in for Georgia, so the rural areas also have more financial pull. This can sometimes make voting a tricky situation. “I will admit, voter suppression is real in Georgia,” Haley said. Trans people can often face some struggles at the polls if their ID picture no longer looks like them, or if their name or gender has been changed. There is a common assumption that people from the LGBTQ+ community are usually Democratic because that is the party that often presents the most legislation in their favor. So depending on the poll they attend, it can be very convenient for the workers to make it difficult for people in the LGBTQ+ community to vote. “Which is ridiculous because they’re on both sides of the isle,” Haley said. For example, House Bill 660 presented by Rep. Meagan Hanson, R-Brookhaven, would establish some legal parameters for crimes committed based on prejudice


People gathered in Central Presbyterian Church to oppose anti-LGBT SB 375, which would legally allow institutions to turn away LGBTQ+ parents looking to adopt.

beliefs in Georgia. In the same way, Senate Bill 119 presented by Senator Lester G. Jackson, D, would offer statewide protection to LGBTQ+ people. Whatever the case, it’s a system. If the LGBTQ+ community can’t get people in office who represent them, then no legislation will ever give them protection. “The thing about discrimination is that it plants a seed,” Haley said. “If I can get away with discriminating against one group, then it leads into the next, and the next, and the next.”


While Atlanta’s hub might often seem like a safe space, transgender individuals live in a state willing to offer them no protection. “My hometown was in the suburbs and I felt really unsafe in that town,” the student said. “I was really worried that that was going to be something that was just a part of being trans. I thought that was something I was going to feel for the rest of my life.” Atlanta has helped that feeling fade for the student, but the LGBTQ+ community is still facing that feeling in Georgia. “I think the base of this is that the LGBTQ+ Community in the state of Georgia does not have basic rights,” Haley said. There have been systems put in place against the community that effectively make living a difficult thing to do outside of Atlanta. “This is about the basics of being allowed to work, allowed to use the bathroom where you want, and being allowed to have housing,” Haley said. These difficulties also have major impacts on the homeless, incarceration, and murder rates in the trans community, all of which are elevated because of issues that stem from anti-LGBTQ+ policies.


However, there is something students can do to help. For one, Georgia State is in walking distance from the Capitol. Lobbying, protesting, or sitting in on proceedings are all ways Georgia State students can stay informed and have their voices heard. At the very least, dialogue can be a first line of defense. “I have seen a lot more happen with conversation than people give credit for,” Haley said. “It’s more about people feeling like they are being validated.” Getting in contact with officials to start that conversation can be an effective tactic. Haley stressed the importance of identifying a location and whether or not you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community when you contact them. “It’s way more powerful having letters from someone who is not in the community,” she said, mostly because that shows that it’s an issue everyone is concerned about and also makes it relatable to the person reading that letter who may be thinking of their children who may feel the same way. In the same way, officials are going to be more sensitive to the people who (districtwise) have the power to vote them in or out, so that’s why location is important to include. Whatever your line of action may be, now you know the facts. Georgia State students are lucky to attend a university in an area where the LGBTQ+ community has begun to collect basic civil rights. “I consistently stand by that we are stronger together,” Haley said. “That’s what we should all be striving for.”





Students take advantage of the free fitness classes at Georgia State including yoga.

Tight and fit

FITNESS QUIZ! Check all the boxes and count them as you go!

What ways can students stay fit SAMUEL PUCKETT Associate Arts & Living


t wasn’t even a week after we made our New Year's health resolutions before we slacked. We did. We all told ourselves we wouldn’t,


that this year was different. Our diet and workout routines were in for a total overhaul. Bad habits and time constraints be damned! We may have started strong, but as the first weeks of January wore on and the snow mounted, our carefully planned calories turned to microwave monstrosities and the closest we got to a gym run was speed walking

Do you get at least 2 hours of exercise a week?

against the freezing wind. But the year is far from over. Just three months in, we have plenty of time to get into our Hugh Jacked-man-est shape for summer break. You can get back on your health grind, and with all these easy on-campus fitness hacks and amenities provided by your student fees, you really don’t have many excuses left.

2 hours or more


less than 2 hours

Do you get at least 1 hour of aerobic exercise a week? Yes




Do you get at least 1 hour of resistance training a week? Yes






What kinds of carbs do you eat?


MONTH A High fiber, unprocessed

grains (oats, whole wheat, beans and lentils) White bread, white pasta, sugars


What kinds of fats do you eat?


If you don’t know much about exercise, the idea of starting an exercise plan can be discouraging. Good thing the rec center provides a variety of fitness classes for all fitness levels at all hours of the day Monday through Saturday. A lot of options there. Justin West is a graduate student in Exercise Science and a personal trainer and group class instructor at the rec. He teaches a class called Boot Camp that focuses on aerobic conditioning and muscular toning. “It teaches you the basics,” West said. “In a group setting, you’ve got people around you to motivate you. It’s kind of a team effort.” Students with physical disabilities or serious injuries don’t have to stop getting in a serious workout. As a personal trainer, West teaches students of all ability levels to get active. “You kind of just have to go at your own pace,” West said. “There’s always a way to scale different workouts.” In his class, Del Prado said he wants his students to walk away feeling good, not for having met a calorie goal but for more tangible reasons. “I’m really trying to focus on getting active in general, as opposed to the aesthetics or body image,” Del Prado said. “The feeling of enjoyment from exercise [will] allow you to better adhere to a workout program.


Working out is great, but when it comes to your day to day, we’re all just about as healthy as the next person right? Wrong! Your daily habits can have the largest impact on your overall health. Small practices can have a big effect on your energy and focus throughout the day. Start and end the day with a five minute stretch routine, take the stairs and drink some water. Georgia State makes a point to be a walkable and bikeable campus. Consider walking instead of taking the bus as often as you can, but be sure to budget out that time. Be smart and safe and don’t walk alone at night or in the rain, but small walks will add up to a lot of good work. You can motivate yourself by keeping track of your daily steps on your phone. Commuter students who live in the neighborhoods near campus can consider biking as well. It might seem daunting and busy at first, but downtown is full of bike paths and lanes that make the commute accessible. To be successful, give thought to how you can build healthy habits like walking and biking without embarrassing or inconveniencing yourself. The last habbit you’re going to keep is one that makes you sweaty and late to class.


Your diet is probably the most important part of your health. It’s an old cliche, but what you put into your body is what you’ll get out of it. Leslie Knapp is a registered dietitian with Georgia State nutrition services and she believes eating smart doesn’t have to get costly. If you make lists of the things you use regularly and plan a couple easy go to meals, it can save you both time and money. “We may mistakenly purchase foods that don’t work together to make a meal, or buy foods we don’t use and end up throwing out,” Knapp said. “Creating a grocery list with items needed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks is a great way to be cost effective.” Planning for your health can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be a priority. College is when many of our lifelong habits are formed. Knapp has some simple tips on picking the right ones. “Eating a balanced diet, being physically active, drinking water, and getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night are the best recommendations to prevent most chronic disease,” Knapp said.


Nuts, seeds, plant oil, fish


Dairy and processed foods

Are your sugars limited to less than 25 grams a day? A




How much water do you drink in a day? A

One liter or more


Less than a liter

Do you consistently get 7 9 hours of sleep? A

Consistently 7 - 9 hours a day


Frequently under 6 hours a day


Inconsistent, hard to judge

If you answered with mostly A’s, you are doing great! Take some lessons on the things you can improve on and you’ll be perfect! If you answered with mostly B’s, try to assess small changes in your habits you can make to improve your health. Drink water, eat more high fiber foods and good sources of fats, eat less sugar and you’re on your way!




I intern-ship it

Avoiding common internship application mistakes SAMUEL PUCKETT

Associate Arts & Living Editor


hat are you doing this summer? Maybe you’re taking a trip to some sunny spot or picking up shifts at your old hometown job. Or maybe not. Last year, intern and co-op hiring was the highest it’s been nationally since 2013, and the trend is expected to continue. If it does, you could be the next lucky student clawing your way into a job. But getting an internship isn’t easy. There’s a lot of competition to outpace and a lot of pitfalls to avoid. Assistant director of Internships and Co-ops at Georgia State Caroline Anderson wants to clear up some misconceptions and help you land your next gig. The first mistake students tend to make is not applying soon enough. Keep an eye out on Handshake for application windows because the deadlines can miss you faster than you care to admit. The best and most competitive opportunities are usually being filled months in advance. “The internships that are available for summer are recruiting right now,” Anderson said. “Their deadlines are at the latest mid-March.” When you’re looking for opportunities, don’t discount the professional value of personal relationships. According the Anderson, finding your next job is all about building a network. “Sometimes people think that networks are just the professional looking person that you handed your card to,” Anderson said. “But networks are really anyone who is supportive of your success.” That means family connections and friends, friends of friends, and more friends. Know some relatives in the city of your dream job? Reach out! Know some friends who share your interests, goals, and direction? Connect. Just don’t forget to show your appreciation for the people who help you grow. When you apply, it’s essential not to undersell yourself. Anderson said many students make light of skills they learned from low level jobs or less traditionally professional

Mid-March marks the end of summer internship application deadlines, but it is not too late to apply.

majors. Whether you worked retail or studied literature, you have transferable skills that are marketable in the professional setting. “The students in general who aren’t able to articulate how their major works in a professional context are gonna have difficulty no matter what,” Anderson said. “They learn really relevant skills, but they need to be able to articulate them to potential employers.” Matching students to the appropriate


resources has challenges that vary with their major, according to Anderson. Often students in the scientific and medical fields like biology and psychology are unaware of the full spectrum of options their major affords them. Other majors have other issues. Anderson finds Computer Science majors to be under the misconception, given the ever-increasing demand in their field, they have nothing to gain from outside experiences like internships

or co-ops. She believes that is never the case. “We’ve found consistently that our students who have internships or co-ops are more prepared professionally, they’re more competitive once they graduate, they spend less time between graduating and being employed,” Anderson said. So it doesn’t matter what your major or your year in school is. Put yourself out there or you’ll be behind.

A staycation for Spring Break

You don’t have to leave Atlanta to have the best experience VICTOR SLEDGE Staff Reporter

So you’ve decided to stay in Atlanta for spring break. It’s tempting, but the week doesn’t have to be filled with Netflix and chilling (by yourself). Atlanta has so much character and culture to dive into over the break that you can’t get anywhere else.


Firstly, Atlanta’s urban culture is a gem worth discovering. Museums, monuments and memorials across town tell the stories of diversity, art and history of the city. You can visit some that interest you and learn a little something other than how many times you can re-watch every episode of The Office over

the break. It’ll take a while to get through, but the Center for Civil and Human Rights is a cultural experience only our city can pull off. The tickets are affordable, and the three-story museum will take you through the events that shaped Atlanta and rattled the nation. You can also spend some time at the High Museum of Art in Midtown to show off and nurture your sophisticated side. With a collection of diverse modern and contemporary art, it is a sensory experience to be reckoned with. But you don’t have to spend money to appreciate art in the city as spots like the BeltLine, Krog Street Tunnel and city-wide mural sites are perfect to enjoy a sunny day off from school.


Once you’ve brushed up on some art and culture, head over to some cool shops around

Atlanta. If thrifting is your thing, Little Five Points is a great place to start. Take a look inside some of Atlanta’s coolest second-hand stores, selling things like old records and all the hipster paraphernalia you could ever need. The street art itself is even a marvel to behold, and with the prices of the shops, you’ll be glad you came.


Lastly, what’s a good break without good food? Atlanta has a restaurant culture rivaled all over the country. Treat yourself to some fine southern cooking instead of undercooked Ramen during the break. You can’t beat Atlanta’s soul food. Fried chicken, mac & cheese, refreshing sweet tea, there are signature dishes made from signature recipes all over the city, and you’re sure to find

the one for you. Maybe try Busy Bee Café or Mary Mac’s to get a taste of the home-cooking you’ll miss out on over the week. Not feeling soul food? Get a full culinary experience by visiting Katana Teppanyaki & Sushi for Japanese cuisine cooked right in front of you in their Teppanyaki Room. Finish the meal off with some dessert. If you really want to get some Atlanta culture, head over to Sublime Doughnuts and get the A-Town Cream for a tasty, Instagram-worthy treat. For a late night on the town with a sweet tooth, try Café Intermezzo, which stays open past midnight. They’re inspired by European coffee shops, but serve more desserts than you can count. So, sure, let your friends enjoy their beach in Mexico. Once they’re back all sunburned and broke, you’ll still be in your food coma and well versed on culture and the hot spots from the ATL gems you found all week long.




things you don’t want to miss Wednesday

More events and info at







Dropkick Murphys

Jewish Music Festival


Model Open Call

Cotton Candy Tasting

The Story Collider

MGMT at t he Roxy

March 7

March 8

March 9

March 10

March 11

March 12

March 13

One of the most well-known bands which combine both traditional irish folk and punk musical styles, the Dropkick Murphys will be performing at Philips arena at 7:30 P.M. Opening will be Agnostic Front and Bim Skala Bim.

For the second day of the ninth annual Atlanta Jewish Music, Lola Marsh will be performing at 9 P.M. Come and enjoy some spacey pop with folksy influences at Atlanta's own Aisle 5 stage.

For a wild Friday night, it's always a sure bet to see some EDM at the Opera Nightclub. Trampa has a bombastic but eclectic sound and has been making waves in an already wavey industry.

If you dream of a glamorous life, casting and registration for the Swank Deco fashion show will held at the Sheraton Hotel at 6 P.M. Prospective models are expected to bring copies of headshots and their measurements.

Come out for the grand opening of the Fluff Flava Cotton Candy bar at the pink charm boutique. Try loads of flavors of Cotton Candy and chill with the owners.

Everyone has a story. Listen to the stories of scientist gathered for the Atlanta Science Festival. Explore the personal life of researchers who share their experiences experimenting and discovering.

It’s a chill time onstage with indieskinny-synth-pop band MGMT. And that could be you, bopping along with them at 8 P.M. at the Coca-Cola Roxy.






Word List: SGA Transgender Development

Transportation Sustainability Advocacy Matriarchy Ecology Nutrition

Relaxation Buff Autonomy Consent Antifa Couture



Seniors’ last run at the big dance Session and Williams are determined to make their senior seasons memorable CHRISTIAN CRITTENDEN Staff Reporter


eorgia State men’s basketball seniors Jordan Session and Isaiah Williams have played their final regular season games with the team, and their final games at the GSU Sports Arena. Moving forward, every game could be their last because in the postseason, its win or go home.


Session and Williams were both honored before the March 3 game with a ceremony at half court when they were greeted by their parents. The two seniors ended their careers the same way they began at Georgia State -- with a win. Williams stole the show and went out with a bang, scoring a season-high 23 points, 16 of those coming in the first half. He got the Panthers going offensively in the first half when they were struggling. “With [Zeke], I thought he saw the ball go in early and that helps. He can relax, and especially for a guy that's a shooter, he saw it go in and it really helped him,” head coach Ron Hunter said. Session didn’t play the game he imagined today, but he still played a role in the team's victory and finished a great a career at the Sports Arena. “Sesh has had a great year, he’s had an unbelievable year, so as I told him no one game will define your season and more importantly your career here at Georgia State,” Hunter said. Session and Williams have accomplished a lot and won a lot during their time at Georgia State. “When you're in a class and three out of the four years you win 20-plus games, three out of the four years you go to postseason play, and then you graduate on time, that's the culture of the program, that’s the legacy that our seniors set,” Hunter said. “So our seniors have set a high standard in this program.” Now the seniors will turn their focus to making it to the 2018 NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years.


The Panthers last made the NCAA Tournament back after the 2014-15 season. They won the Sun Belt Conference tournament

to get the automatic bid and entered the tournament as No.14 seed and defeated the No. 3 seed Baylor Bears behind the shot that everyone remembers by R.J. Hunter. Session and Williams, along with Jeff Thomas, are the only members left from the tournament. However, Session is the only one of the three that played in the tournament as Williams and Thomas redshirted that year. Session recalled his time with that group and their magical run to the tournament. “It was my freshman year here, so coming in I didn’t know what to expect,” Session said. “I came into playing with Ryan Harrow and (R.J.) Hunter and a bunch of other great players. It was different from this team, but similar because this is a team full of talent. But when we went to the tournament, it was like, like something I couldn’t even put into words because it was something that I wasn't used to.” With this being Session’s last chance to make it to the NCAA tournament, it is important to him that he helps his team make another March run. “It means everything for us to get back it the tournament, not just for me but for this team and this program,” Session said. His actions are speaking louder than his words this season as he’s averaging 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds, but he has done a lot more. Session scored a career-high 22 points this season in a win over first place Louisiana. He has also added two double-doubles and several nine rebound games this season. Those numbers show how much Session has improved from his freshman year. Despite the ups and downs, he has always remained focused and kept growing. “I feel like I’ve improved all around, mentally, physically, spiritually,” Session said. “I just feel like I've gotten a whole lot better as a player from high school to college.” Whenever Session’s career ends, he just wants to be remembered for one thing. “Hopefully one that continues the winning here,” Session said. “I just want to keep the winning alive here in this city and this state.”


Williams or “Zeke” as some people like to call him, played one year at Samford before transferring to Georgia State. Williams has been a steady contributor for the Panthers throughout his career at Georgia State. This season, Williams has stepped up his play. He has scored double figures several times this season, and

Jordan Sessions and Isaiah Williams prove to be assets to the men’s basketball team until their last college games.

saved his highest total for his final game at the Sports Arena. His consistency can be credited. “Just always staying in the gym, working on my craft, working on things to get better,” Williams said. This season Williams surpassed the 1,000 career-point mark. “I actually didn't know it until after the game, one of the coaches had told me, so I didn't know, but it was a great feeling. Not a lot of people get to accomplish something like that,” Williams said. Williams also has one goal that he wants to accomplish and to be remembered for. “Putting a championship up. I’ve been here three years, and I haven't done that yet, so I want to put a championship banner up,” Williams said. Williams has not only improved on the court, but off the court as well during his time here at Georgia State. “I feel like I’ve matured a lot in my time here. Coaches, they focus on basketball, but they make sure that we grow as people and as men too, so I feel like they’ve helped me a lot with that,” Williams said. Session and Williams both have goals of reaching the NCAA tournament to cap off their stellar college basketball careers. They have helped put the team in a good spot, and now all that is left is for them is to go out and do it.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Session has played in over 80 games for Georgia State Session scored his career-high 22 points earlier this season Williams has scored over 1,000 career points Session is the last player that from the 2014-15 NCAA tournament team




Jeff Thomas attempts to dunk against Troy University on March 1.



Grab your pencils, it’s bracket time! Sun Belt Conference tournament previews D’MITRI CHIN & BLAKE CORRIGAN Associate Sports Editor & Staff Reporter


The Georgia State men's basketball team finds themselves in a gifted position to win the Sun Belt tournament as they are the No. 2 seed and have Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in D'Marcus Simonds (21.5 ppg and 5.9 rpg). However, the Panthers do not necessarily have an easy route to being champions and punching their ticket to the big dance. The No. 2 seed Panthers will face either Troy or South Alabama on March 9. Ironically, both teams have beaten the Panthers in the regular season, with Troy completing a series sweep. Head coach Hunter will not admit this because he says that any team in the conference poses a threat to the Panthers' ultimate goal (winning a championship), but on paper the Trojans have more talent than the Jaguars. It's also worth noting that if they do face Troy, this is a team that understands what it takes to win the tournament being that they are the defending champions. If the Panthers win their first match of the tournament, they will either face a Georgia Southern team that has a star in Tookie Brown, who put up 23 points and five assists to beat the Panthers on Feb. 16, or a Louisiana Monroe team that snapped the Panthers' then 10-game winning streak on Feb 10. Monroe is a team that doesn't have a particular player that can dominate the game at any given moment. Nonetheless, they have four players that scored in double figures and shot

over 50 percent from the floor as a team during that game. And since March Madness is full of surprises, Arkansas State, who lost by just four points to Georgia State (79-75) on Jan. 6 can very well spoil the Panthers or the Eagles’ chances of advancing to the final round of the tournament. Their highly coveted player is Ty Cockfield (14.8 ppg) as Deven Simms (17.1 ppg) was dismissed from the program in February. They finished the regular season on a high note by beating Louisiana Monroe 83-79. Both Louisiana (No. 1 seed) and Texas Arlington (No. 4 four seed) have great talent and are perhaps the two most talented teams in the conference. Each have legitimate chances to advance to the final round of the tournament, but only one of those two teams can advance. This year's tournament will almost certainly be more competitive than last year’s. Moreover, the Panthers could be matched with the onerous task of facing either Louisiana or Texas Arlington. Arlington has two 2018 NBA Draft prospects in Eric Neal (16.2 ppg and 7 apg) and Kevin Hervey (21.1 ppg and 8.7 rpg). Louisiana is led by Frank Bartley (17.4 ppg) and Bryce Washington (10.6 ppg and 10.7 rpg). Whichever team the Panthers face during the tournament, victories will be earned, not given.


The Georgia State women’s basketball team finished the regular season on March 3 with a 70-69 loss to South Alabama. This leaves the team with an 8-21 record overall and Sun Belt Conference record of 4-14. Head coach Sharon Baldwin’s team played some stiff competition outside of the Sun Belt including Florida and

No. 7 ranked Mississippi State. They went 4-8 outside of the conference. The team struggled mightily within the Sun Belt as well, only winning conference games against Georgia Southern, Troy and UL Monroe, all of which were dominant victories. Defeating Georgia Southern the second time Feb. 17 gave them their only road conference victory of the year. This brings the team to the Sun Belt tournament which will begins March 6. While their record hasn't been great thus far, the Panthers are keeping optimism high. “We are very optimistic going into the tournament. We are focused on one team at a time,” said Kierra Henry. Janessa Murphy echoed this statement after defeating Troy on March 1 saying, “I believe we’re gonna go really far in the tournament. If we play how we know we can play, no one can beat us.” The Panthers enter the tournament as the No. 10 seed and face off against Coastal Carolina who enters as the No. 7 seed in the first round. Georgia State averages 63 points, while Coastal Carolina is averaging 67.2 points. Coastal Carolina is entering riding a two-game winning streak after defeating Arkansas State and Appalachian State, receiving big games form Jas Adams with 41 combined points. Baldwin said the team knows they can’t win the Sun Belt outright, so now they are taking it game-by-game to try and play their best ball at the end of the season. The fight is still in the team though. Baldwin said the team doesn't quit, citing many of their close games this season. Catch the first game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament for the Panthers on March 6 at 5:00 p.m. CT as the Panthers try and take down Coastal Carolina.




The engine behind Georgia State athletics Meet Washington: The Panthers’ favorite chauffeur JERELL RUSHIN Sports Editor

Once Tramonty Washington moved from Winter Haven, Florida, to Atlanta at the age of 7, he went on to drive similar distances with no problems. Currently, he drives professionally and consistently takes Georgia State athletic teams to and from competitions. Teams obviously travel to compete, but how they get there isn’t always appreciated or recognized. Lots of people mispronounce his first name, so he simply goes by Washington. At 36 years old, Washington is one of Cooper Global’s chauffeurs that help them remain Atlanta’s No. 1 ranked limousine company after five straight years. “I really like driving for Georgia State. Sometimes I’ll give up other trips if it’s one of the teams I drive,” Washington said. “Sometimes you give up good trips, but I’ll come and drive for them because in my mind, I kind of want them to get there safe and get back safe. I trust me more than anybody else to do it.” After graduating from Douglas County High School, Washington spent over 11 years inspecting bridges and roads as a civil engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation. He then moved on to Cooper, where he’s been for just over four years. Georgia State athletic squads and Washington have been happy partners since fall 2015. Washington estimates that he drives Georgia State teams 10 times per month. With the level of respect he sees between the players and coaches, he’s had only great experiences traveling with them. The usual suspects that request Washington are the beach volleyball, football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and men’s soccer teams. Head coach Brett Surency and the men’s soccer team was Washington’s first gig with Georgia State-- they simply hit it off. Both the student-athletes and coaches interact with Washington with much ease and comfortability. “They relax and all of that, but they’re just real cool. Going out and watching the games,

Tramonty Williams, one of Cooper Global’s chauffeurs, takes Georgia State athletic teams to and from their competitions.

they like to cut up going to the games. If they win, they like to talk. They interact with me, too, so it's cool,” Washington said. “It’s almost like we’re friends, and we’re just kicking it. It’s real cool driving for not just them, but for all the teams.” The relationships aren’t strictly business. He watches the team play from the bus when he’s not resting. When Washington is on campus with another team and sees the men’s soccer team leaving the GSU Sports Arena, they’ll stop for a second to catch up. Washington can’t remember all the names of the 100-plus football players, but they remember his, and they’ll throw up the

deuces to one another. He drove for the 2015 AutoNation Cure Bowl and the 21-17 comeback win at Georgia Southern in 2017. With the amount of time Washington spends on the road, many would have a tough time getting a hang of the new lifestyle. Washington thinks driving doesn’t phase him because after he and his mother moved from Florida, they drove back every month to visit family. Occasionally, he’d go, stay an hour and head right back to Atlanta as long as he got the correct amount of sleep. “I wouldn’t want to say it’s relaxing because you don’t really want to relax when you’re driving, but it kind of is,” Washington said.


Even if passengers don’t want to make conversation during the rides, he remain unbothered, knowing they may be busy or need rest before catching flights. Celebrities Washington has chauffeured over the years include Condoleezza Rice, Baron Davis, Rick Fox and Muhtar Kent. Georgia State always books nice hotels, but his favorite trips land him on the beach. The 2017 men’s soccer Sun Belt Conference Championship was hosted by Coastal Carolina. The team and Washington stayed on Myrtle Beach. Washington hasn’t learned how to turn down any offer that gets him to the shores. He isn’t planning to either.

Bowens, Gideon and spring football What do new football coaches Tim Bowens and Blake Gideon bring to the team BLAKE CORRIGAN Staff Reporter


ootball may not be in season here at Georgia State, but for head coach Shawn Elliott and his staff, there is still much work to be done. Elliott recently completed his coaching staff by hiring Tim Bowens and Blake Gideon, who coach the running backs and cornerbacks respectively. Spring practices also start on March 7 and run until April 6, leading up to the annual Blue-White spring game. Bowens joins Georgia State after spending the past three seasons as the running backs coach at fellow Sun Belt school South Alabama. The hiring of Bowens gives way for Josh Stepp, who formerly coached both

running backs and tight ends to move his sole focus to tight ends. Bowens attributed the decision to take the job within the conference to a few things, such as a really good conversation with Elliott at the Senior Bowl, the growth of Georgia State’s football program over the past year and an excellent location for his family. The backfield for Georgia State had its struggles in 2017 and dealt with a bevy of injuries throughout the year. Bowens will have his work cut out for him if he wants to make the backfield as efficient as the passing game. Bowens said he wants to “work every day to develop them as people as well as players.” He noted how important it is to know all of his guys as people first to help them connect on the field. Gideon comes to Georgia State after two

impressive seasons at Western Carolina where he coached defensive backs. The defensive backs’ coach has a past working relationship with Elliott from their time together at South Carolina, and said it absolutely influenced his decision to come to Georgia State. He said that he's already noticed the emphasis the coaches put on growing the players as young men first and called their skills and wins a byproduct of it. Gideon, a self-proclaimed preparation freak said that the main thing he hopes to bring to the program is preparedness. Like any good football mind, he said he’s “always worried someone is out preparing him.” The three coaches also talked spring practices, what they hope to learn from them and what players can expect during the month of spring practices. Elliott emphasized

that these practices are not for conditioning, but for developing players and getting more efficient in offensive and defensive schemes. “Spring practices are used to learn players’ skill sets [to] develop an improvement plan to make them the best player they can be,” said Bowens. Gideon wants spring practices to be hard, saying, “I want to put the players in some really hard situations and test them physically and mentally.” He wants that level of intensity for a reason-- to see where his corner room is and see what he’s working with. The additions of Bowens and Gideon to a program already poised to continue to grow should excite Georgia State fans. Fans can see all the work the coaches and players did in spring practices at the Blue-White spring game on April 7.




SAAC provides student-athletes career and life skills Devin Mitchell reaping benefits of SAAC with and Michael Stovall’s help D’MITRI CHIN

Associate Sports Editor


eing a leader and handling adversity with poise is vital to an athlete’s career. However, many athletes lack in that department due to not having the privilege of having an advisor or mentor that can provide the knowledge needed to be successful in their respective sport and also in life. Fortunately, for Georgia State student-athletes, the Student-Athlete Advisory Council program equips them with the essentials to succeed in their desired career path. There are currently 30 student-athletes involved with the SAAC program. Georgia State men's basketball combo guard, Devin Mitchell, is one that has fully reaped the benefits of being a part of such a prolific organization. Mitchell was aware that SAAC was not thriving when he first became familiar with the program. This, in turn, inspired him to make a difference. "I think last year we didn't do a very good job with [SAAC], so we kind of wanted to take a first-hand approach with it this year," Mitchell said.


Mitchell showed signs of being a leader by taking the program to new heights this year, and it has helped him thrive as a student. Not to mention, Mitchell said that being a part of SAAC is somewhat similar to how he and his teammates bond in practice. It's no coincidence that his fellow teammate Jeff Thomas is also a member of the SAAC program. "Just kind of working with other teams," Mitchell said in regards to the skills he has learned by being apart of the program. "It's really the same as [basketball] practice. It's boys and girls, so we have a pretty good mix. We can hear people's viewpoints on things that people are doing and all the programs and each sport. So, it just keeps everybody connected.” Mitchell describes the program as a tight-knit group, even going as far as to say family. SAAC not only allows the studentathletes to develop as individuals but also as teams. All of the members involved with the program are in tune with one another.

“Our athletic director Charlie does a good job of, when he comes to speak to us, giving us some life lessons and some things that we’ll definitely be able to use in the future,” — DEVIN MITCHELL, Guard "I think that it just helps all the athletes stay connected with each team. We know when certain people's games are, so we can go to their games and stuff like that," Mitchell said. "It's really just about the camaraderie." As for applying the skills learned in the program to everyday life, SAAC gets assistance from athletic director Charlie Cobb. "Our athletic director Charlie does a good job when he comes to speak to us, giving us some life lessons and some things that we'll definitely be able to use in the future," Mitchell said. "I

think that's the main plus that I get from it really. Being able to first-hand talk to Charlie and see his viewpoints and learn a little bit about his journey.” Outside of Cobb providing intel to the members involved with SAAC, Mitchell mentioned assistant athletic director, Michael Stovall, who works in the career services and life skills department. "Mike is the head man of it, so I'm really close to Mike," Mitchell said. "He is the one that starts all the meetings."


Stovall plays a crucial role in helping these student-athletes develop into intellectual students with promising futures. Not only does he have a unique way of guiding them in the right direction, but he also says that helping them cope with the challenges of being a student-athlete is vital in how successful they will be during their collegiate career. "First thing is, we're able to guide them from their freshman year all the way to their senior year and even into graduate school," Stovall said. “So, we're able to start them off and give them an idea through resume workshops and through constant conversations. [By] just talking to them to see, [we see] what they really want to do. They may come in with one thought of what they may want to do after student athletics." "But then once we get to narrow it down, they're able to graduate with a better idea of where they are gonna go in the next 15, 20 years." As for the life skills Stovall provides for the athletes, he says that teaching them how to transition from an adolescent to an adult is the most significant aspect of the program. "We teach them things through character ed: how to act, how to dress, how to bring themselves into adulthood," Stovall said. As if adulting isn't a challenge itself, Stovall also mentioned that a great deal of student-athletes are not accustomed to the challenges of being a collegiate athlete. “The adulthood piece is huge, but that's one of the things we teach them when we get them on campus. We teach them how to grow up and how to be a student-athlete." Stovall recalls not having these same opportunities when he was in college, being that he had to face the same challenges as the student-athletes he currently assists. Nonetheless, he enjoys being able to provide knowledge to the students that will undoubtedly lead them in the right direction. "I think it's just great," Stovall said. "I was a collegiate athlete, and I wish I had someone to tell me what I needed to do postgraduation. Life skills are fairly new in athletics altogether. There are not a lot of programs that have a designated life skills person in place." Stovall takes pride in being a leader at Georgia State that can teach student-athletes the skills they need to achieve when playing sports is no longer an option.


MICHAEL STOVALL’S BIO Before joining the Panther staff, Stovall spent 2 years with the Atlanta Public Schools System Athletic Department as an Athletic Academic Advisor on a grant from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl with the Play It Smart Program. Stovall earned his bachelor’s degree from Savannah State University in Biology Played football at Savannah State University He also holds a master degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Argosy University.



panther of the week








Ivie Drake

SOFTBALL Senior catcher Ivie Drake passed Callie Alford to become Georgia State’s all-time RBI leader on March 2 with a RBI double in the first inning against UConn. The hit proved to be winning run in the 2-0 victory. Drake was sensational in Georgia State’s undefeated 5-0 weekend. She logged another RBI in the second game of the doubleheader against UConn last Friday, a 9-7 victory. In 10 plate appearances, she finished the weekend batting .563 with 10 RBIs, 9 hits and 2 runs. Tiedfor the Sun Belt Conference’s top spot in RBIs (15) and sitting sixth in batting average (.406), Drake is making a great campaign for conference player of the year. She also played first base two out the five matchups.

Sports Editor

Conference Overall streak





















































BIG 12








SPORTS CALENDAR SPORTS BRIEFS Men’s Basketball — Head into the Sun Belt Conference tournament after going 1-1 last week. They finish the regular season 12-6 in conference and earned a first bye-round. Panthers face winner of No. 10 South Alabama and No. 7 in the semifinals on March 9 at 5:00 p.m.

Women’s Basketball — Finished the regular season 8-21 overall and 4-14 in conference. Defeated Troy last Thursday thanks to 25 points from Janessa Murphy and Kierra Henry. No. 10 seed Panthers face No. 7 Coastal Carolina March 6 at 5:00 p.m. in Sun Belt tournament.



New Orleans, Louisiana

4:30 P.M.

MARCH 10 5:00 P.M.


Boca Raton, Florida

5:00 P.M.


GSU Baseball Complex



Birmingham, Alabama

men's tennis PENN STATE

5:00 P.M.



Orlando, Florida

9:00 A.M.


Women’s Basketball QUARTERFINALS


GSU Beach Volleyball Complex


New Orleans, Louisiana

2:00 P.M.

6:00 P.M.

Women’s Basketball QUARTERFINALS


GSU Beach Volleyball Complex


Women’s Tennis — Battled Winthrop at Piedmont Park last Saturday for their home opener. The Panthers (6-7) fell in a close 4-3 match. Damira Muminović, Lara Vovk and Daniela Ramirez won singles for Georgia State. Forced to forfeited the doubles point and lost two singles.


Women’s Basketball New Orleans, Louisiana


10:00 A.M.

7:00 P.M.

The Signal Vol. 85 No. 23  
The Signal Vol. 85 No. 23