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Last week, second-year Penn Law student James Wiley was elected the new chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Wiley to discuss his vision for GAPSA’s year ahead.

Daily Pennsylvanian: What do you hope to accomplish over the next year?
James Wiley: I hope to be able to bring the 12 schools closer together through the social events that we have and through the participation of the individual student governments with GAPSA.
Just this past year [former Chair] Joe Friedman did a great job of putting together a nice database of all the contact people at the various 12 schools.
We now have great access to the University leaders at the individual schools and I think next year, moving forward, we’ll be able to take advantage of those relationships and strengthen the bonds that already exist between GAPSA and those schools.

DP: What is the biggest challenge you face as GAPSA chair?
JW: The biggest challenge is getting the most out of each of the 70 people in GAPSA. We have committees, so each vice chair has a team that they work with on their initiatives. As an organization, we’re really just beginning to come to terms of how to make best use of those committees. Finding ways to really get every member to feel that they have some ownership stake in GAPSA and the success of GAPSA through their work I think would be a huge success.

DP: What would you like to see GAPSA do differently?
JW: GAPSA is in a position to continue appointing members of the graduate and professional student community to University committees, and in this past year we filled a lot of those positions with members of GAPSA’s general assembly who already do so much for the University through their service in GAPSA … So I’d like to see GAPSA do a better job of reaching out to affinity groups on campus — giving opportunities to members of those affinity groups to kind of take the bullhorn and have that pulpit on which to speak to the administration and have their voices heard.

DP: What is your leadership philosophy?
JW: It’s very important as a leader of an organization to both take initiative and be a spark that excites people about the work that they are doing, but also that isn’t so heavy-handed. The best leadership style is when we are just like the wind in the sails. We are the spark that ignites the explosion. I see my role as chair as kind of a catalyst in that way.

DP: How would you describe GAPSA’s presence on campus?
JW: GAPSA has awesome potential to continue to become an even larger part of campus life. This past year we made great strides becoming more visible on campus, both through the advent of our new website and really becoming more of a face on campus in terms of interdisciplinary activities, but also in terms of just becoming a nexus of information.

DP: What do you like to do outside of your grad schoolwork?
JW: I really like to freestyle. I love going to see music as well. I like to run. I go to the gym a good deal. I like to write as well. I used to write a lot of poetry. I’ve gotten out of the habit of it, but I’m trying to get back in.

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