Men dominate ASUU’s top post

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

While women are serving in more prominent political positions on a national level, their prominence in student government at the U has diminished.

A woman was more likely to be elected student body president or vice president before the 1960s than in 2007, according to records provided by the Associated Students of the University of Utah dating back to 1931.

From the 1930s to 1965, administrations had both a first and second vice president instead of a senior class president. The position of first vice president was almost always female.

The first female student body president was Joyce Durham in 1953. In 1980, both the president and vice president were female-the only time in the history of ASUU up to that date.

The last female student body president, Tamara Taylor, held office in 1993. Since then, two women have served as vice president-in 1997 and 2001.

For the last seven years, men have filled the top positions of president and vice president in ASUU while women have taken a lower post as senior class president.

The parties running for election this year are no exception to the pattern-all four parties have a female candidate running for senior class president.

Since the creation of the position of senior class president in 1996, only three men have been elected to that role. Since 2001, the position has been held exclusively by women.

Last year, Chronicle opinion writer Lindsey Sine ran for president with the Big Idea Party. An unconventional ticket, Sine ran with two males-Dave Martini for vice president and Shahene Pezeshki for senior class president. The Big Idea Party lost to the BLOC Party.

Sine said her experience running for president as a woman was not difficult, but different from what the typical experience might be.

“People sent me random e-mails and Facebook messages saying ‘You’re hot, I hope you win,'” Sine said. “It was embarrassing.”

Sine believes it is important for women to be in high-ranking student-government positions so the entire student body-women included-can be represented.

“I think more women would involve themselves if they understood that student government actually has a lot of influence on campus,” she said. “To have a lack of women is to have a lack of voice.”

Rick Pehrson, currently the presidential candidate for the Forward Party, said the pattern of female candidates dominating senior class president on the ballot did not play a role in his choosing of running mates. Pherson said he and Clayton McDonald considered a male for the position, but he was already in another party’s general assembly.

Mindy Chidester served as senior class president for the BLOC Party last semester and said, “Senior class president is less time-consuming (than) president or vice president, but I didn’t chose it because I thought it was a better position for a woman.”

Though some of the candidates in this year’s elections have commented on the trend, they said it does not bother them.

FUSE Party senior class president candidate Nicole Nguyen said those who run choose to, based on experience, not gender.

“I’ve had a lot of experience in ASUU and I knew the role of senior class president best-that’s where I saw the most potential,” she said.

Megan Maxfield, senior class president candidate for the More 4 U Party, said although she is “intrigued” by the pattern, it does not trouble her.

“We’re just excited to serve wherever we get the opportunity,” she said.

Elections Registrar Lorraine Evans said she hopes the pattern will not continue.

“I think people get an idea that there is a specific formula for electability. That doesn’t mean (the female candidates) are not qualified-in this case it seems like the right people are running,” Evans said. “I hope it doesn’t stay like this forever.”