Being Vulnerable is a Powerful Tool
It was a beautiful spring day when I set foot on Chico State’s campus. I was met by Kirsten Foster, the student organizer for the Elect Her session (and a former Running Start intern), and Molly Heck, the faculty advisor from the Multicultural and Gender Studies department.
After we kicked off the program and got into the details about why we need more women in leadership positions, a student stated: “Even if I’m thinking about running, the process is intimidating”. Luckily Jovan Smith, the elections supervisor for the Associated Students of CSU Chico, stepped in to save the day. I invited him to take the stage and explain the process of declaring a campaign. He then handed each participant a prepared packet on the deadlines, rules, regulations and a letter of support!
Four of the current AS officers answered questions about their campaign experience and how they’ve been able to make a difference in the role. Their candid insights took the edge out of the ‘unknown’ world of AS for the participants.
Next we had the privilege of hearing from Chico’s Mayor Mary Goloff and Councilwoman Ann Schwab about their experiences running for office.
Mayor Goloff told the participants that they can always find an excuse not to run. She urged them to consider why they wanted to be involved and give back, and then just jump in. We discussed the importance of having a support network, such as Elect Her. Schwab discussed an issue that women tend to face more often than men: being favored/liked in the public eye. She explained that not everyone is going to be in favor of your ideas, but you need to remember why you’re working for the people and just do what you think is best—and to trust yourself.
Following the panel, Chico State communication studies professor Stephanie Hamel gave a vivid and informative presentation on the importance of message and communication, and also touched upon media sexism and the need for more women in positions of leadership.
As we wrapped up the day, the students were pumped with information and spirits were high. Sophomore communications major, Darion Johnston, was the winner of our campaign simulation. She presented herself as a poised and articulate individual running for Associated Students president.
All in all, the participants came into the session unsure about their interest in running for student government. So what happens next? The interest is there, and the “next step for the potential candidates who attended the event is to challenge themselves and take responsibility” says Kirsten Foster.
We’ve encouraged the Elect Her participants to run, and we will remain an on-going resource, but now it’s your turn. Chico State Elect Her ladies (and men)- you can do it!
This post was written by Elect Her facilitator Katie Shorey