Founded by Running Start and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), “Elect Her” is a program that encourages and trains college women to run for positions in student government. Initiated by Student Government Association (SGA) President Sarah Hilton ’16, Wheaton held its first “Elect Her” event in Balfour Hood on February 20.
Hilton originally heard about this event at the National Conference for Collegiate Women Student Leaders as part of the Weiss Women program. While there, Hilton met a woman who had helped run an “Elect Her” event at her college. Wheaton has now become the newest addition to the 50 campuses that hold this program nationwide.
The committee that helped bring this event to Wheaton consisted of Kelly Welch ’16, Holly Salois ’19 and Maya Benson ’18. Andrea Holden, director of student activities, also played a critical role in creating this event. Hilton expressed her gratitude toward the committee: “I’m so grateful to be a part of such an incredible campus team that is so supportive of an idea [that] I brought to campus on a whim.”
Wheaton’s “Elect Her” event brought in experienced alumnae to speak to students about getting involved in student government and politics. “Judith Garcia ’13 spoke about her election to the Chelsea City Council,” Hilton said. “Mary Anne Marsh ’79 shared a wealth of knowledge about women in politics, the national election and careers in the political world.”
According to Hilton, “Elect Her” was a significant addition to Wheaton. “As a woman in a leadership position, I see the double standards that exist in the way women work, are valued, [are] treated and think about themselves,” she said. “I see a huge confidence gap in women leaders on this campus.”
Hilton said that although Wheaton handled gender equality well, especially when it came to leadership positions, equal representation often fades as women leave college and enter the workforce. She said that this is why such programs are so substantial.
“I think events like ‘Elect Her’ are a critical step to reaching equal pay for women of all backgrounds and allowing women to reach higher into the ranks of the public and private sectors,” Hilton said.“I hope this program will continue for many years as AAUW [and] Running Start expand their footprint.”