GAPSA elects new leaders

The new president emphasized what his outside perspective will bring the group.

JP Leider

At their final meeting of the academic year, members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly selected the organization’s leaders for the fall.

Dmitry Zhdanov was elected as next year’s GAPSA president and Suzanne Sobotka was selected executive vice president.

Six of GAPSA’s current executive board members were re-elected to the board in various capacities.

Zhdanov, a doctoral student studying information systems who has not been a GAPSA member but had attended two assembly meetings, emphasized what his outside perspective could bring to GAPSA during elections.

“When people work together for a while, they start to generate the same routines all the time,” he said. “Someone who has a fresh eye from the outside may suggest new directions.”

Zhdanov said he has been pleased with GAPSA, but wished the organization would communicate more with graduate and professional students.

He rated GAPSA’s effectiveness this year at 6 out of 10, 10 being the highest.

The rating, he said, accounts for a lack of communication he’s experienced from GAPSA during his four years at the University.

For a $4,000 stipend and an estimated 30 hours of work per week, Zhdanov will serve as the official spokesman for GAPSA, coordinating with the Executive Board and supervising staff, according to GAPSA’s bylaws.

Sobotka, GAPSA’s new executive vice president, said she is looking forward to working with student-leaders in GAPSA, both old and new.

After serving on the assembly in the past, Sobotka has served as president of the School of Public Health’s Student Senate.

Despite some internal turbulence at the end of the year, she said, it seems GAPSA accomplished a lot this year.

Sobotka rated GAPSA’s effectiveness this year as 7 out of 10, partially because she questioned the effectiveness of resolutions GAPSA issued.

“Based on the number of resolutions passed, the administration had a hard time discerning whether we were serious about resolutions or not, so that may have cut into GAPSA’s effectiveness,” she said.

Sobotoka said she would like to see more transparency in the way GAPSA passes resolutions and provides grants.

Josh Colburn, who was re-elected as vice president for administrative affairs and epresentative to the Board of Regents, said he looks forward to working with the new leaders.

“One of the things that’s often lost is student government’s developmental side,” he said.

Student government serves as a microcosm of the real world, where students can determine what type of leader they are, Colburn said.

And while the successes might be similar to those experienced in the real world, he said, failures can occur with far smaller consequences than otherwise would be allowed.