Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Monday's GPSA meeting was held in Malott Hall.

September 13, 2021

GPSA Elects New Leadership at Second Meeting of the Semester, Hoping to Start With a Clean Slate

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In the second meeting of the semester, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly elected a new president, executive vice president and counsel, which resulted in one leadership position vacancy.

Monday evening, with 20 voting members in-person and others joining over Zoom, Preston Hanley grad was elected to fill the role of GPSA president. Hanley was elected with 38 members voting in favor and 13 abstentions. 

“I have a passion for government and shared governance,” Hanley said during his speech following his nomination for president. “I can be a megaphone to move on anything that you guys might want to see change.”

At the first meeting of the semester, the previous president of the GPSA, James Rowe grad resigned from the leadership position. Hanley described Rowe’s resignation as a “mutual parting of ways.”

Rowe said that his resignation was due to medical reasons describing the decision as “one of the hardest things” he has had to do during his academic career. 

“I was forced to make a difficult decision to step down as GPSA president,” Rowe said in an email to The Sun. “I wish the Assembly the best of luck and a great year. If there is any way that I can help Preston and the Assembly succeed, I am more than happy to do so.”

Hanley said that with his new position, he hopes the GPSA can begin with a clean slate. His biggest concern is making sure graduate students are represented in conversations surrounding the response to COVID-19.

“It’s definitely been something that the University is continuing to deal with and students are continuing to have to adjust to,” Hanley said. “I think that making sure students have ample representation at that table with those conversations is probably one of my most important issue areas.”

Damien Sharp grad was elected as executive vice president with 40 members voting in favor and six abstaining. Nikola Danev grad was elected for the counsel position with 41 votes in favor and one abstention.

Genesis Li grad, the new vice president of communications, says her priorities in her new role will be to foster inclusivity in communicating with all graduate and professional students and maintaining transparency in her communication.

“I am hopeful to be more transparent and better at communicating with the broader student community, graduate student community and faculty members about relevant issues,” Li said.

The meeting also saw the rescinding of two previously-passed resolutions — one regarded the approval of a pre-internal budget expense for a GPSA website and the second established a vice president for strategy and a vice president for administration on the executive committee.

Hanley explained that the decision to put the two resolutions to a vote came about following concerns over the resolutions being rushed and because some members felt the resolutions did not get the same consideration they would have gotten at a regular meeting due to the online voting format.

“We had the opportunity to kind of start from scratch, and with a clean slate. It was important after a lot of people had been voted-in last week,” Hanley said. “It was important to get the approval of these new members, resolutions, especially since President Pollak hasn’t signed off on them yet so it was a good opportunity to go back and revisit those and see how this current assembly feels about those.”

Following the meeting, the roles of appropriations committee chair and chair of diversity and international students committee are both vacant.

Hanely said the role of appropriation committee chair is one of the most important vacancies because this is a fee-setting year, and he wants to make funding for students a priority for the GPSA.  

“I’m making sure that we’re getting more funding, whether that be different scholarships help offset the cost of tuition, funding for different research programs and internships and just kind of let students have a better experience here, more hands-on practical experience,” said Hanley during his nomination speech.

The assembly will continue to look for someone to fill the vacancy and will hold an election for the diversity and international students committee at the next meeting on Sept. 27.

Update, Sept. 16, 9:13 a.m.: This article has been updated to include comment from James Rowe regarding his resignation.