Women underrepresented, yet unsupportive in SGA politics

SoRelle Wyckoff

As a history major, I have learned that great change is more of a weathering process than an overnight fix, and only after years of time will we have two stark points of comparison. However, as a journalism major, I have learned a feeling of hope in the idea that change can occur, and I will be able to see that change’s byproducts.

So, perhaps I let the journalism half of my double major, and the hope that comes along with it, get the better of me this time.

I convinced myself in the past weeks that this Student Government Association election would be groundbreaking. Not only would we have the chance to see an underground political organization thrown off its pedestal of power, but we would see women on this campus move into SGA positions that have seldom been inhabited by females.

After not being backed by the Machine for positions on the executive council of SGA, two women decided to run against the Machine anyway. The lack of endorsements did not surprise them, or me; while women typically receive Machine endorsements, it is almost always for the position of executive secretary.

But what upset me more is the lack of support for these women from the very organizations that should have supported them the most. Two “old row” sorority members were defeated at the hands of the very organizations they are so proud to be a part of. And as a member of the sorority system, it’s hard for me to understand why a group of organizations so proud of their sisterhood, history and strength on this campus help feed into yet another year of all-male candidates.

As women, we are a minority in SGA, despite being a majority on this campus. And just as other communities come together to support individuals trying to break set standards, we should have done the same in order to initiate change and be part of something that women all over this University would be proud of.

This is not to say that females should automatically vote for females because they share that similarity; this is to say that sororities who are a part of the Machine should seriously consider who and what they are voting for. This is also not about the Advance UA candidates losing and the Machine candidates winning; it is about how incredibly disconcerting it is to see fellow females hold back the potential of our feminine strength on this campus simply because they were told (or, ahem, “advised”) whom to vote for.

As a woman, I am ashamed that two strong and intelligent people – who were not only exceptionally qualified, but also knowledgeable about their sought positions – were defeated because the Machine and the sororities that pay into the Machine did not support them. And personally, after the amount of dues we pay, I would expect a little more support. But, perhaps sororities care more about their membership to their club machine than their own members.

In saying this, I congratulate all winners of the 2012 SGA elections. And in the spirit of continuing to be hopeful, I look forward to seeing your platforms carried out.

But, as my history professors have taught me very well, change does not happen overnight. Women have attended this University for almost 120 years, and we are still almost entirely confined to executive secretary and appointed positions in SGA. Maybe it will only take a few more rounds of hopeful women to see the pride and respect we deserve in student government.

 

SoRelle Wyckoff is the opinions editor of The Crimson White.