Restructuring GAPSA

GAPSA Executive Board

Today, we are attempting to rise from a history of conflict and mismanagement within the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly into an organization that can efficiently and effectively represent the interests of graduate students at the University of Minnesota.

This transformation requires the support of the entire University community. This includes the University’s primary source for student news, the Minnesota Daily, choosing to accurately report and responsibly source its content regarding our functioning and restructuring process. Please see the corrected story in this edition of the Daily for clarification about GAPSA’s assembly meeting last week.

All graduate and professional students are members of GAPSA. GAPSA is a nonprofit student government that oversees a $400,000 annual budget of student fees, most of which is redirected to 10 graduate and professional councils of the University, including Duluth. These funds are also administered by the GAPSA executive board as a robust small grants program for individuals, groups and councils. We provide dynamic programming for the student body and advocate on behalf of our students’ needs through our public affairs unit.

We all have a responsibility as a community to ensure that our voice is strong and collective through active student engagement and participation. We are proposing a novel approach to unite and amplify that voice, which is currently not directly representing its constituents and their interests.

We are collaborating as an Assembly, Presidents’ Council and GAPSA executive board to increase the voice of the individual student councils. The board will be restructured to incorporate one representative from each council, either the council president or an appointed representative.

In addition, we would like to continue the process of electing a president for GAPSA through the All Campus Elections Commission. The new GAPSA executive board would then appoint a vice president of finance and grants through an application process. We would also like to reallocate a large portion of the current grants and programming budgets to the 10 councils. Essential administrative needs will be provided in addition to this structure, either through staffing or additional elected or appointed positions.

Through a process of civic engagement and program evaluation, we plan to create a strategic plan for the next year, with the participation of those willing to take the time to contribute to improve their student voice. We are particularly attuned to the need to change the culture of this organization to reflect the values of our stakeholders. Our first program evaluation meeting was held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Monday night with members of the current GAPSA executive board and assembly, facilitated by students at the Humphrey School. This letter is meant to welcome you to participate in this process and this organization as a graduate or professional student.

Part of the challenge GAPSA faces, which undergraduate student government does not, is the inherent turnover and time demands inherently present within the population of graduate and professional students. Although participation in a governing body does require dedicated attention, we hope you might be willing to contribute to the exciting transformation of this organization into an innovative, representative and responsive student government to suit the needs of the graduate and professional students at the University. We are currently seeking a vice president of finance and an executive vice president; interested students should get involved.

We welcome criticism, thoughtful disagreement, new ideas and constructive energy. If you are a graduate and professional student, watch for an email in your inbox, welcoming your thoughts and creative ideas to help begin this process of transformation and renewal.