Students casted their ballots for WUSA’s Executive Students’ Council on February 11, 2020, voting in for the first time in WUSA history, an all-female Students’ Council for the year of 2020-2021. The executive team will take office beginning May 1, 2020.
“I believe that strong female role models are an important part of encouraging girls to pursue their dreams. I hope that we can inspire others to become involved in leadership during (and beyond) their time at the University of Waterloo,” Megan Town, Vice-President of Education-elect said.
Team Vision collectively ran for executive council for the 2020-2021 term with a platform focused on mental health advocacy and student engagement on campus.
They hope these goals will help foster more collaboration to WUSA’s internal and external opportunities.
“I feel it’s important that our gender identities don’t come in the way of our experiences, qualifications and passion for serving students,” Nada Abouelnaga, elected Vice-President said regarding being a part of the first ever all-female executive team.
The current Vice-President of Student Life, Amanda FitzPatrick feels last year’s election showcased a lack of diversity and respect for racialized and potentially marginalized candidates. With the current elections results, she is optimistic about diverse representation amongst WUSA candidates.
“This will inspire more students to get involved in advocacy and governance, as for the first time ever they can see that succeeding is possible,” FitzPatrick said.
Abouelnaga reflects on identifying as a racialized Muslim woman in Canada. She believes coming into WUSA with these identities is a sign that WUSA has room for perspectives and views of various backgrounds.
“I believe that coming into an executive position with these backgrounds and identities proves that there is space for representation in WUSA, which says a lot to what our jobs as executive members entail. We are here to represent students, listen to their concerns, and advocate on their behalf,” Abouelnaga said.
But even with a drastic shift from a male dominated WUSA executive board to a female one, the candidates do not believe identifying as a woman will lead to any distinctions in judgement based on gender.
“Our team is excited to begin working with students to make lasting impacts across campus. Our passion for students and dedication to WUSA comes from our previous experience working with student leaders across campus. Being a woman does not impact my ability to hear the concerns of students and speak on their behalf,” Abbie Simpson, elected President of Student Life said.
Megan also commented on this point.
“Becoming a WUSA exec is a job with a steep learning curve! We have seen many successful female executives. I don’t think that our identities will result in any challenges distinct from those that a male-identifying executive might face,” Town said.
Having experienced WUSA and UW activities from a student perspective, Alana believes that the elected executives ran for their positions because they have a desire to make student input the driving force behind WUSA decisions.
“I hope that we will be able to relate to a wider variety of students and foster a community where their concerns are heard and validated,” Alana Guevara, elected Vice-President of Operations and Finance said.
While the candidates represent experiences beyond identifying as female, the all-female team is a groundbreaking achievement for WUSA as the executives have pointed out.
The executives are also very much inspired by strong female characters they have come across and the many female executives that have been on the WUSA team before, “I was always inspired by the strong women in my life. Female leaders have always inspired me to be a better leader and to change the world. Our team is lucky to have a group of strong, dedicated student leaders who have given their time to this university and its students,” Simpson said.