GAPSA at odds with possible revamp

Some members say a proposed new structure for the group would diminish its importance.

Haley Hansen

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly could take on a new form next year, shifting some of its power to an entirely new group.

Members are considering separating the governing body’s structure into two groups: one for graduate students and another for professional students. But some members are concerned with how the change would affect GAPSA’s organization and students.

Group leaders are proposing the creation of a new student government equivalent to the Council of Graduate Students. The new group, informally named the Professional Student Association, would specifically focus on addressing the needs of professional students.

GAPSA President Alfonso Sintjago said with the changes, GAPSA would only meet a couple of times each year to discuss issues that cross between the groups. Its executive committee would be composed of four COGS members and four members from PSA, he said.

In order for PSA to receive funding for the 2015-16 school year, the group would need to send a student services fees application by Jan. 24 to meet the Student Services Fees Committees deadline.

Leaders introduced the plan for restructuring to the assembly at its meeting Wednesday evening, stirring some concern among members that the group doesn’t have enough time to mull the idea before its implementation next year.

GAPSA Vice President Ashley Hall said she’s worried the new structure would diminish GAPSA’s importance.

“I don’t want GAPSA to end up just disappearing,” she said. “That would be really disheartening to put all this time and effort into something and then [have] it dwindle away.”

Before the plan is made official, the group will likely allow all graduate and professional students to vote on it. The vote would likely take place during next semester.

It’s important the new structure is something students want to be a part of, Hall said, and that the changes are well thought-out and properly funded.

Some councils may also be in flux with the new structure, members said at the meeting.

The Graduate Students in Education and Human Development council represents both professional and graduate students, which left members questioning where the council would fit in the proposed system.

GradSEHD representative Michelle Gensinger said GAPSA needs to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the restructuring and that the decision shouldn’t be made with haste.

“I think it’s important we get more voices into the discussion,” said Gensinger, who led the creation of a task force to further review the idea.

But Sintjago said the proposal will allow GAPSA to focus on the individual and overlapping issues that impact both graduate and professional students.

At the meeting, COGS President Andrew McNally said PSA and COGS would coordinate their fees requests, programming and advocacy efforts.

The proposed plan for restructuring comes in the wake of an ongoing state of financial uncertainty for GAPSA.

The group’s funding has been frozen for nearly six months while the Office for Student Affairs investigates a $93,000 discrepancy in its budget.

Last week, OSA granted GAPSA about one-third of its $232,000 budget for the current school year.

“GAPSA has had ups and downs, but it has done a good job in terms of advocacy over the years,” Sintjago said. “And I think we can do an even better job by making these changes happen.”