GAPSA fills two vacant executive board positions

The assembly also outlined a procedure for future vacancies.

by Cali Owings

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly on Wednesday night filled two of three vacant executive board positions and outlined a plan to prepare for vacancies in the future.

Joanna DeLaune, a second-year graduate student studying history, will serve as executive vice president for the remainder of the semester. Former Vice President for Student Affairs Terrance Paape will take over as vice president for public affairs.

After both the GAPSA president and executive vice president vacated their positions simultaneously, Abou Amara was appointed acting president, leaving his old political affairs position open. Since Paape moved to public affairs, the second student affairs position is still open. Paape said there were two candidates, but they were unavailable for Wednesday night meetings so their applications were not brought before the assembly to vote.

The assembly also approved an amendment to the organizationâÄôs constitution outlining a procedure to handle simultaneous resignations. GAPSA essentially adopted the procedure it developed over the course of the simultaneous resignations, making it official protocol.

The new procedure states that if the president resigns or is removed and the executive vice president is unable to assume the presidentâÄôs duties, the executive board will appoint an acting president.

If the vacancies occur more than 60 days before the next All Campus Elections Commission election, the acting president will serve until the assembly holds a new election.

But within the 60-day window of the next general election, the acting president will have to serve out the remainder of the term and be subject to approval by the assembly.

Since former GAPSA President Ryan Kennedy and Executive Vice President Monica Howell resigned with less than 60 days until the next election, Amara was approved by the assembly to act as president for the rest of the year.

Members of the assembly voiced concerns that the change was unnecessary since the board had already used this procedure even though it wasnâÄôt outlined in the constitution.

Paul Freeman, characterizing the vacancies as “executive paralysis,” said it was important to outline a procedure in case it ever happened again, though he considered it a “freak” occurrence.

The newly elected members of the executive board will have less than three months in office before being replaced by next yearâÄôs leaders.

DeLuane has been active in the Council of Graduate Students since last year and served as an alternate representative from the history department to the assembly.

She cited previous experience working in a variety of office environments and coordinating for a local womenâÄôs rights organization in her election statement.

Paape, who also serves as political affairs director for the Student Advocates for Graduate Education coalition, said he had already taken on many of the political directorâÄôs roles after Kennedy and Howell resigned.

Paape said he is focusing on stabilizing the public affairs platform for GAPSA and outlining duties for the position in the future. The position includes advocating for graduate students on the local, state and federal policy levels.

The GAPSA political affairs position “fits in naturally” with PaapeâÄôs work on SAGE, he said.

Though GAPSA originally co-founded the Legislative Certificate Program with the Minnesota Student Association, Paape said itâÄôs become MSAâÄôs lobbying arm but wants to work with their lobbyists or start a similar program to work for GAPSA.

Since its affairs were disrupted by the resignations, Paape said GAPSA missed the opportunity to support the University at the Capitol on Tuesday.

GAPSA is planning a trip in March to Washington, D.C., to advocate for graduate education for the SAGE Day on the Hill.