The Advance-Titan

Women In Power

This year the majority of student-shared governance group leaders at UW Oshkosh are women, and a majority of other positions in these groups are filled by women as well, which is a rarity.

Oshkosh Student Association President Austyn Boothe said she could not be more proud of what the women leading OSA, United Students in Residence Halls, Reeve Union Board, Reeve Advisory Council and the Multicultural Education Coalition have accomplished.

“I think it is fantastic to see women at Oshkosh running for the highest elected positions in student governance,” Boothe said. “None of us came together and all decided to run, we all ran for these positions because we are truly passionate about our roles on this campus.”

Boothe said she would not have been inspired to run for OSA president if it wasn’t for encouragement from previous female leaders on the OSA board.

“I know that I would not be in the elected position I am in today without former women leaders on this campus pushing me to do bigger and better things,” Boothe said. “When I told then current Speaker Nicole Lehto, who is now graduated, that I did not plan to run for Speaker, she told me, ‘I have been training you for this job next year, why would you not even run?’ This was the first time someone pushed me to run for an elected position.”

RAC Vice President Aza Muzorewa said he is not surprised to see so many females in high-ranking decision-making positions.

“These ladies have proven they can do their jobs,” Muzorewa said. “It’s great to see them in these positions, it is all about who is best for the job, which is the way it should be.”

RUB President Jessy Fedie said RUB has had female presidents on their board for the last five years.

“I think it shows that women can be in positions of leadership and maybe a little higher up and that they can excel in it,” Fedie said. “I hope that it would [show] girls in the future, who want to pursue something, they can do it and they can be respected for their hard work.”

OSA Speaker Samantha Swartz said she hopes to continue to see women leaders in all groups on campus.

“The great part about having women in the highest elected positions in student government is that, hopefully, we are able to encourage other women to run and continue to voice their opinions on important matters,” Swartz said. “I hope that my role as being a female speaker of assembly has encouraged others to run for higher positions within their registered student organizations.”

USRH President Shania Williams said being a women in an elected office and speaking for others has helped her learn skills that will help her through life.
“It’s been a cool experience being a woman in power,” Williams said. “I feel like it will help me stand up for myself later in life. Through this position I have dealt with a lot, and it has just been a great experience.”

Williams said she did not fully realize it was the first time the majority of elected student shared governance leaders at UWO were female.
“On some level I subconsciously knew that, but didn’t realize it was the first time that happened on this campus,” Williams said. “It’s just so positive to see more women in charge making decisions for the campus.”

USRH Treasurer Sarah Stefaniak said her goal is to make sure every student at UWO is represented.

“We try to get the word out to everyone to be involved,” Stefaniak said. “I think women are just more drawn to positions like ours because they know we can do it, so why can’t they.”

Stefaniak said she hopes women in leadership will become the norm.

“If people see women as leaders in the workforce, younger generations will recognize it, and it will just naturally be part of the cycle,” Stefaniak said.
OSA Vice President Maria Berge said being a part of this moment for UWO has been inspiring.

“This is really empowering for women all across campus, not just one area,” Berge said. “It just shows that we are growing as a campus.”

Berge said she wants to see even more women at UWO get involved.

“The more the merrier,” Berge said. “There are lots of opportunities out there for women. There are positions that aren’t always filled by people who are perfect for the job because someone didn’t go out for the position due to whatever reasons. Having women on campus encourage one another through work can help change this.”

As for the future, Muzorewa said having so many women filling these positions can only benefit society.

“College is a direct pipeline to your future,” Muzorewa said. “[College’s] influence should trickle down into society. There are women who dominate Fortune 500 companies and politics, so women in these positions are becoming the norm.”

Boothe said while this is a historical moment for UWO as a campus and community, their work is just beginning.

“Having women in these roles is important but I hope that all student-shared governance groups make efforts to become a more diverse group,” Boothe said. “The best way we can represent all 14,000 students on this campus is by making our meetings a place where any student feels comfortable voicing their ideas or opinions.”

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Women In Power