GAPSA dissolution effort ends in assembly walkout

Members left in protest of a resolution that would greatly shrink the assembly’s role.

by Cali Owings

A major overhaul to the role of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly was stopped during Wednesday nightâÄôs meeting after several assembly members walked out in protest.
Vice President for Student Affairs Bree Dalager prepared a resolution and a series of changes that would majorly limit GAPSAâÄôs function and put emphasis on utilizing the Student Senate instead. Her proposal would eliminate GAPSA programming and advocacy efforts, including the vice presidents for programming and public affairs positions.
To some, DalagerâÄôs changes were the work of a âÄúpoor loserâÄù trying to change an organization that she will no longer be involved in. Dalager lost her attempt at re-election for the student affairs position during the April 24 meeting.
Terrance Paape, GAPSAâÄôs vice president for public affairs, said he was the first person to walk out and that it wasnâÄôt planned. He said he was opposed to the changes because they âÄúguttedâÄù the organization and was glad that several assembly members followed suit.
He said Dalager did not bring the changes to the internal affairs committee and instead tried to âÄúram it through the assemblyâÄù at the last minute.
According to her changes, there would only be three leadership roles within GAPSA: president, vice president for grants and an at-large director. The assembly would only meet once a semester rather than once a month, and GAPSA would funnel council representatives into Senate positions and committee seats.
Dalager said she suggested the changes because GAPSAâÄôs programming and advocacy on behalf of students was ineffective.
Since all but 13 members walked out, GAPSA had lost quorum and ended the meeting almost 30 minutes early. As it was the last meeting of the semester, the resolution and constitutional and bylaw changes will be unfinished business for the assembly to address at the first meeting in September. A special meeting could be called if seven members file a petition.
The assembly also tabled a budget so the executive board will have to implement a working budget for the operational costs during the summer until a budget can be approved in the fall.
Dalager said she suspected the walk-out was organized and that participants manipulated a procedural rule to avoid discussion of the changes. She wanted the assembly to at least hear the proposal and bring it back to their councils for more feedback.
âÄúPeople feel like GAPSA is being childish and not accomplishing much,âÄù she said.
Though Dalager claims GAPSAâÄôs programming and advocacy efforts are ineffective, Matt McGeachy said GAPSA programs reach hundreds of graduate students who wouldnâÄôt otherwise have a social outlet.
McGeachy, who chaired the meeting, said it wasnâÄôt democratic for Dalager to push through a resolution when the assembly did not have enough time to think it over.
McGeachy and Paape said GAPSA would be better next year without Dalager, who was a âÄústrainâÄù on the executive board, Paape said.
Dalager also filed an impeachment complaint against GAPSA President Abou Amara on Wednesday night.
She cited three reasons for AmaraâÄôs impeachment:
4Using unapproved committee meeting minutes to make claims against Paul Freeman during the GAPSA election.
4Threatening to complain to the assembly if the results for an internal affairs committee decision regarding Executive Vice President Joanna DeLaune were not to his liking.
4Making statements in an email to Dalager that if her changes passed he would âÄúmake a motion to the new [executive board] to repeal all of your proposals that pass.âÄù
Amara called the impeachment complaint a âÄúdesperate attemptâÄù and called DalagerâÄôs reasoning âÄúfar-fetched.âÄù He said the claims did not meet GAPSAâÄôs constitutional standard for removal from office. He said his statement about repealing her changes was not outside his scope as president. During the summer, the executive board can make decisions which need to be ratified by the assembly in the fall.
âÄúIâÄôm focused on fixing the areas where GAPSA needs to grow and evolve,âÄù Amara said after the meeting. âÄúDisagreeing with someone isnâÄôt grounds for impeachment.âÄù
GAPSAâÄôs constitution requires the impeachment be heard at the next general assembly meeting, which will likely be next fall.