Shay looks back on MSA presidency

She represented more than 30,000 undergrads and managed MSA.

Undergraduate student body president Lizzy Shay, a finance junior, writes out checks Monday afternoon in her Coffman Memorial Union office. Shay has been president for the 2011-12 academic year and will step down June 30.

Undergraduate student body president Lizzy Shay, a finance junior, writes out checks Monday afternoon in her Coffman Memorial Union office. Shay has been president for the 2011-12 academic year and will step down June 30.

Jenna Wilcox

 

Lizzy Shay, president of the Minnesota Student Association, toiled in the group’s empty and humid Coffman Union office Sunday afternoon.

With only a few weeks left before the end of the year, Shay is transitioning out of her role as MSA president before officially stepping down June 30.

She described her term as the most incredible year of her life and said she accomplished many of the goals she set from the beginning.

But there were also several things that didn’t go according to plan.

In September, Shay told the Minnesota Daily that one of her priorities for the year was to have 100 percent budget efficiency. With the year coming to a close, MSA has more money than expected left in its budget.

Shay said MSA has over-budgeted for many events in the past, but that wasn’t the case this year.

“We budgeted correctly and spent a lot of the money, but one of the things we’re running into is we’re operating more efficiently than we were expecting,” she said.

Shay is planning to have a meeting within the next few months with Vice Provost Jerry Rinehart and MSA President-elect Taylor Williams to discuss how to improve the management of MSA’s finances next year.

Student advocacy also became a bigger part of Shay’s objectives than she had planned for in the beginning of the year.

“My goals changed as people came to me with what it was that was their vision,” she said.

One vision was that of Chris Tastad and the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition.

The organization launched last semester and now represents students and their interests at the state Legislature on issues like tuition, the voter ID amendment bill and the bonding bill.

“By the end of the year, [advocacy] was something that I felt really passionate about getting every member of MSA involved with,” Shay said. “Supporting the MSLC as much as possible was really important to me.”

The MSA office dynamic has been a touchy subject in years past.

Shay specifically brought up the time period after Sarah Shook beat Paul Strain for MSA president in 2010. When the election was over, members remained divided. Shay said they would even get into yelling matches.

“It just made it really stressful to come [to the office],” she said. “We avoided it this year, and I’m really happy about that.”

Wes Halseth, MSA’s grants director, said he noticed fewer heated debates this year.

He attributes it to having fewer controversial topics, a more harmonious body of members and a good group of directors.

One of those directors, Williams, will be taking over as MSA president when Shay leaves.

He said that while he thinks Shay’s management was an improvement to past years, he hopes to build better relationships with members.

According to Williams, Shay focused more on building relationships with administrators.

“It’s important to me to be really helpful to the new people and help them rise up so they can make a difference in the organization,” he said.

Shay said she had wanted to grow the intern program, but the organization already had too much on its plate.

While balancing her time as a student and an Alpha Chi Omega member, Shay said her biggest challenge was handling the dual roles of MSA president — representing more than 30,000 undergraduate students and managing MSA itself.

“I think it would be such an easy job if it was just one or the other,” she said. “But since it’s both it makes it hard.”