Shay and Amara elected, GAPSA’s turnout soars

After three days of voting, University of Minnesota students chose Lizzy Shay and Abou Amara as 2011-12 undergraduate and graduate student presidents.

Cali Owings

After three days of voting, University of Minnesota students chose Lizzy Shay and Abou Amara as 2011-12 undergraduate and graduate student presidents, respectively.
Amara, who had been acting president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly since sudden resignations in January, beat Paul Freeman.
Shay and Vice President Colin Burke received 50 percent of the vote in two rounds of instant runoff voting, leaving Thomas Trehus and Lauren Himle with 27.8 percent of the vote and Wes Halseth and Michelle Aumann with 22 percent.
Voter turnout in the Minnesota Student Association election is stagnant with 3,428 votes compared to 3,469 votes in the last election.
But the number of voters in the GAPSA election more than doubled over last year. Amara won by more than 400 votes, 994-555.
Shay attributed the success of her campaign to the trust she and Burke had already built with students.
âÄúIt was the relationships Colin and I have with students that really brought out the votes,âÄù she said.
Shay is a sophomore in the Carlson School of Management studying finance, advertising and Spanish. She is an at-large representative to MSA and currently serves as chief of staff to outgoing MSA President Sarah Shook. Shay first became involved with MSA as a representative from Territorial Hall Council and is also involved in Women in Business and the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority.
Burke, a chemical engineering sophomore, is a newcomer to MSA. He became an at-large representative in February 2011. HeâÄôs also involved in the Interfraternity Council as chief of staff and is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
With the highest GAPSA election voter turnout of the past four years, Amara said his was a âÄúconvincing win.âÄù
HeâÄôs a first-year public policy student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Before being appointed acting president for GAPSA, he served as the groupâÄôs vice president for public affairs, when he led its advocacy efforts.
AmaraâÄôs interest in lobbying for graduate students extended to his presidency. Before the election began, he was in Washington, D.C., with the Student Advocates for Graduate Education during its Day on the Hill event.
He said when he talked to graduate and professional students during his campaign, they were very uncertain about their futures with looming changes at the Capitol and potential tuition increases.
Amara said the results âÄúvindicatedâÄù his message that GAPSA should work for graduate students in St. Paul and Washington to give them a âÄúfair and equitable life while at the University.âÄù