Graduate Student Assembly appoints new vice president

Eleanor Dearman

Brian Wilkey, Graduate Student Assembly president, appointed architecture graduate student Vance Roper as the organization’s vice president Tuesday after having the seat vacant since August.

On Aug. 21, David Villarreal stepped down as GSA president, making Wilkey president and leaving the organization without a vice president. Since becoming president, Wilkey has been searching for his replacement.

Wilkey said he sent out emails and made announcements to the graduate student body, and two people expressed interest in being GSA vice president. Out of the two applicants, Wilkey said Roper was the best candidate.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the assembly unanimously voted to instate Roper as vice president, moving him from his previous position as legislative affairs director. 

“In our conversation, I believe he very much shares the vision of what the GSA should be working on this year and working towards,” Wilkey said. “More importantly, he’s got a long-term mindset about what we will do this year and what will be beneficial down the road.”

According to Roper, his experience as legislative affairs director, in which he helped form resolutions aimed at graduate students, has helped to prepare him for the position.

“When the position opened, I felt I had the qualifications and the desire to step in and make this a really successful year for Graduate Student Assembly and for graduate students on the campus itself,” Roper said.

Roper said some of his platforms include improving graduate student housing options and increasing participation in GSA. Roper said he hopes to use his public policy background to encourage robust debate and participation among members.

“I’m also going to try and have a very engaged assembly throughout the entire session,” Roper said. “We had a lot of turnout, and we expect a bigger turnout as time goes on.”

Ropers’ appointment left the legislative affairs director position open. Wilkey said he made the executive decision to appoint Sharla Chamberlain, former election supervisory board member and director of Invest in Texas — a student initiative focused on voicing student concerns to the Texas Legislature.

“It went through more of an appointment process based on what was allowable in the constitution, in the interest of time,” Chamberlain said. “I was a member of the election supervisory board, so I got a good view into all of the candidates and into how the electoral process works.”

Wilkey said he expects a smooth transition into the adjusted executive board.

“A lot has remained really unchanged, and it’s just a different name on the card,” Wilkey said.