Michael Suguitan/Sun Staff Photographer

Student representatives at the GPSA meeting on Monday voted in new representatives in an effort to fill vacancies.

November 19, 2021

New GPSA Leadership Settles In; Assembly Fills Vacancies as End of Semester Nears

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The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly convened on Monday to fill two vacancies, with three vacancies remaining. 

Though President Martha Pollack was slated to speak at the meeting, according to GPSA president Preston Hanley grad, she had to postpone until next week due to feeling “under the weather.” 

At this week’s meeting, representatives chose Norielis Perez grad, a first-year masters of public administration student, as their new social sciences voting member. Perez was elected with 22 votes in favor and two abstentions.

“There was a voting member already serving in that position elected last spring, but they decided they didn’t have time for the obligations, so they resigned,” Hanley said, adding that such resignations are “not very common” in the GPSA.

During the meeting, representatives also elected Kyle Karnuta grad, another first-year MPA student, to the program board with 23 votes in favor and two abstensions. 

“As an MPA fellow, I seek to serve the community that I’m in,” Karnuta said in her nomination speech. “I would love to be a part of GPSA so that I can serve the graduate school community.”

The GPSA is still attempting to fill vacancies for two arts and humanities voting members, and a master of industrial and labor relations representative.

Hanley said he hopes an amendment to the GPSA charter will expedite the process of filling GPSA vacancies. If the amendment is implemented, positions will open up to any GPSA member if they remain vacant for four meetings.

“The charter says those schools have their own mechanisms of filling those, but when they’re not filling them, that’s not good for us,” Hanley said. “If there’s people willing to serve in those positions, there’s no reason why they should sit empty.” 

Elections occur for all GPSA positions in the last meeting of the spring semester, except the finance commission chair and appropriations commission chair, which are elected at the end of the fall semester.

In addition to filling the vacancies, the GPSA has focused its efforts on increasing engagement, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The assembly sends out biweekly newsletters to the graduate student community, and has set up several social media profiles.

In its next meeting, the GPSA will continue to debate Resolution 10, a reform that seeks to switch the names of the appropriations and finance commissions. If it passes, it also would make the chairperson of the new finance commission the vice president of finance, providing them a seat on the executive committee, the body responsible for the day-to-day operations of the assembly.

“Currently, the executive committee meets without knowledge of the GPSA finances, or the state of the GPSA,” said Damien Sharp, GPSA executive vice president. “We’re just asking that we could have a vice president of finance on the executive committee, so that we may have some knowledge about the state of the GPSA during our meetings and general day to day operations.”

While the part of the plan to give the executive committee “a financial arm,” as Sharp put it, was not heavily scrutinized, some GPSA members expressed confusion about the name change.

“I’m wondering if there’s a way that could rethink this amendment that would still serve your needs, in terms of putting someone on the executive committee without making this name change,” said Meredith Welch grad.

Hanley said those primarily affected by the name swap are the treasurers of the outside organizations that interact with the GPSA. He said he doesn’t believe the name change will be hard to relay to them, adding that those roles are “constantly changing hands.”

Hanley also said he plans to bring forward more new initiatives to GPSA in the future. Currently, the GPSA has a diversity and international students committee. He said the GPSA is considering splitting the committee into a diversity, equity and inclusion committee and a separate international students committee. 

“We’ve done the low-hanging fruit of filling the vacancies,” Hanley said. “We can really start getting things together and making things happen that we want to around campus.”