Decision Making Within APAGS


The way in which APAGS makes decisions on behalf of its constituency, YOU, is not always clear to the membership and we are sometimes asked about this process. In response, this article will describe this process in detail, but it is not an exhaustive review of the complex interplay of checks and balances involved in the process. Your participation in helping APAGS make decisions and represent student needs, opinions and issues is, as always, very welcomed and highly encouraged.

In understanding the operation of APAGS, it is first important to understand the genesis of our organization -- how APAGS came to be. APAGS was established by the APA Council of Representatives as a continuing committee within APA in 1988. APAGS has enjoyed rapid success and gained significant importance in the APA structure since that time. Because APAGS remains a continuing committee within the broader APA structure, APAGS operates within the parameters and mandates of the greater organization, which means that we help to create, and are also subject to, the policies that govern all committees within APA. We are also subject to, and protected by, the ethical rules and by-laws that govern APA

As suggested above, our status as a continuing committee means that we are involved in both the development and implementation of the policies and priorities that are established by APA, though it's elected Council of Representatives, Board of Directors, and numerous boards and committees. Students participate in this process in a variety of important ways. Student representatives, selected and elected by APAGS, are either members of, or liaisons to, many of the key boards and committees within APA and, thereby, provide direct input into the decision-making activities of these groups (as well as to the decision-making activities of APAGS). In this way, student perspectives are represented within most groups and are reflected in the policies developed by these groups.

The APAGS Committee and its student representatives to other APA boards and committees are the individuals elected by the membership - which is YOU. Non-voting APAGS committee members are appointed from a pool of applicants through a rigorous evaluative process. These APAGS committee members (who are appointed APAGS subcommittee chairs) and sometimes the members of APAGS subcommittees also serve as APAGS liaisons to other APA boards and committees to represent students. These APAGS governance members have several critical fiduciary responsibilities. As an agent of APAGS, some of these general responsibilities include:

  1. Setting APAGS policies and priorities.

  2. Identifying and addressing current and emerging graduate student needs and issues.

  3. Advocating for graduate students in all environments and arenas.

  4. Attending and preparing for business meetings, conventions, conferences and liaison board and committee meetings.

  5. Reporting on business meetings, conventions, conferences and liaison board and committee meetings to APAGS governance colleagues, staff, allies and constituents - to aid in decision-making processes.

  6. Discerning when to represent, when to lead, and when to both represent and lead students in relation to a broad spectrum of issues that affect students.

  7. Using judgement to appropriately prepare for and investigate issues in order to competently contribute to committee deliberations and decisions.

Representing and leading the student affiliates of APA is no easy task. Your representatives and leaders take their roles and responsibilities seriously. Designated APAGS representatives, or liaisons, are charged by the APAGS Board to suspend their personal beliefs in order to accurately convey the overarching views and concerns of psychology students in general. At times, the personal opinions of the APAGS representatives are solicited, but more often than not, the APAGS representatives must refrain from speaking for themselves and speak on behalf of the APAGS members they represent.

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