GAPSA confirms Amara as president

The assembly will vote to fill its vacant executive vice president position Feb. 23.

Cali Owings

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly approved the appointment of Abou Amara as acting president Wednesday night. He will fulfill all presidential duties for the remainder of the year.

Amara was appointed by the executive board after previous President Ryan Kennedy and Executive Vice President Monica Howell resigned simultaneously.

The appointment was controversial because it was the first time in GAPSA history that both officers had resigned at the same time. GAPSA bylaws and its constitution did not provide a clear way to move forward, so the executive board decided an appointment was the best option.

It was necessary for the assembly to approve the appointment so the executive board would be held accountable for its actions, said student representative to the Board of Regents Matt McGeachy, who presided over the assembly meeting.

“Their reasoning [for an appointment] was not immediately apparent to the assembly,” McGeachy said.

The quick appointment gave the organization a leader before its student services fees request was due Friday.

“Many times when an organization needs a leader, it needs a leader very soon,” Amara said.

Moving forward without someone in charge would hurt GAPSAâÄôs ability to work on issues, he said.

Amara is a first-year public policy student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a concentration in governance. He received his undergraduate degree in sociology and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

After a year working on a community program for Twin Cities youth through AmeriCorps, Amara ran in the spring election to become vice president of public affairs for GAPSA.

A relative newcomer, Amara said he was “shocked” that the executive board approached him to fill the vacant presidential seat.

“To be honest, I thought [Vice President for Finance] Tyler [Price] would be the next president,” he said.

Though he said someone like Price would know the “nuts and bolts” of the organization, Amara felt the executive board appointed him because he had a general vision and direction for GAPSA.

His first job will be planning the fees request presentation with Price before going before the Student Services Fees Committee on Sunday afternoon.

Amara said he still has not decided if he will campaign for the GAPSA presidency in the upcoming spring election for the 2011-12 academic year.

In response to the chaos that ensued after the double departure, the executive board at the next meeting will present a bylaw change that outlines the procedure for simultaneous resignations.

The procedure would require a presidential election through the assembly if the resignations occur 60 days or more prior to the next election.

If the resignations occur within the 60-day window, the executive board could then appoint an acting president subject to the approval of the assembly.

McGeachy said an appointment would “make sure the ship doesnâÄôt sink” between the resignation and election.

AmaraâÄôs former public affairs position is now vacant along with the executive vice president position. Vice President for Student Affairs Terrance Paape also said his position would be up for grabs, sparking speculation that he may want one of the open positions.

Paape said the executive board is also considering hiring a communications assistant to work in GAPSAâÄôs Coffman Union office.

The assembly will vote on applicants to fill these vacancies at its Feb. 23 meeting.