SGA’s all-white male executive board is disappointing but not surprising: Lack of representation goes deeper than SGA

Melina Khan, Copy Editor

On April 13, Quinnipiac University’s student body elected an all-white male executive board to lead its student government for the 2021-22 school year.

Out of the 11 candidates for five Student Government Association (SGA) executive board positions, all were white and six were female.

I wasn’t surprised with the results.

Maybe it’s because I’m a minority student who comes from a place that’s predominantly white like Quinnipiac. Or maybe it’s because I don’t see why any students of color would want to represent this university when administrators consistently fail to adequately support us.

Quinnipiac is currently working on implementing its 10-point plan that is meant to advance racial justice. If administration has a genuine hope for our community to become more equitable, these grand, performative actions are not what the student body needs to see.

We need support on everyday matters of injustice and inequality, such as not having incident reports go ignored by residential assistants, orientation leaders, public safety, the administration and more.

According to Quinnipiac’s website, the class of 2024 is 74.6% white. Despite being a disgusting discrepancy, this also means there are barely any students of color to begin with, which has a domino effect onto campuswide leadership positions.

There were several reasons why I decided to attend Quinnipiac a year ago, but the biggest reason why I did not want to was because of a lack of diversity.

I knew, and still know, what I signed up for by coming to Quinnipiac — a less diverse student population that leads to a lack in representation. If we want to address this issue, we need to get to the root of it — non-white students don’t want to come to Quinnipiac.

There are a lot of ways to begin trying to rectify this issue. First, we need to make Quinnipiac a place that isn’t scary for non-white students. Administration needs to do better to make sure we feel safe on campus through genuine concerted efforts.

What’s the point of developing a course on diversity, equity and inclusion if it’s not even mandated? Why release a statement standing in solidarity with Asian Americans without first standing with your own Asian students?

We need to give our students reasons to be proud of this university so they aren’t opposed from major roles like being a leader in student government. Maybe then, a multicultural or minority student will actually run for SGA’s newly formed vice president of inclusion, diversity and engagement position.

(From left to right): SGA President Nick Ciampanelli, Vice President Christopher Longchamp, Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement Jeremy Gustafson, Vice President for Finance Cameron Davignon and Vice President for Public Relations Carmine Grippo. (Photos contributed by SGA)

Diversity doesn’t end with race. It also includes gender.

The fact that roughly half of this year’s e-board candidates were female and yet none of them were elected has a patriarchal discomfort to it.

All of the female candidates were equally as qualified as their male counterparts, which begs the question: why didn’t more people vote for them?

This is a more complicated question to try to answer. At a university with a female president and a primarily female student body, having the voices that don’t actually represent our students is the farthest thing from expected.

The reality is, though, most students don’t vote in SGA elections. Of the ones who do, many don’t research the candidates ahead of time and vote on a whim. This is often forgotten and echoes the importance of voting, even on a small scale like your university’s student government.

If you didn’t vote, I hope you reconsider when I tell you that only 29% of the student body did. You pay a ridiculous tuition price to go to Quinnipiac, so you deserve to have your opinions as a student considered — voting in SGA elections is how you ensure that happens.

Take the commuter parking fee, for example. The SGA was instrumental in fighting for what students wanted and in turn, convinced administration to postpone it a semester.

The other consideration in the lack of female representation is that there is a serious disparity between female and male confidence.

A 2019 study found that men are more likely to self-promote than women. Women are also more likely to face imposter syndrome — the experience of doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud — according to a 2020 KPMG report.

I know how easy it is to fall into a trap of self-doubt because I’ve been through it myself. Luckily, I have women in my life who have called me out in those moments. But, a lot of women aren’t so lucky, and I am led to wonder how many women on our campus are unknowingly holding themselves back.

Regardless of feeling disappointed in the election’s outcome, I sincerely hope I’m proven wrong. I hope there can be a shift in our campus culture in the face of any injustice, whether it be on the basis of race or sex. I hope our elected students will rise to the occasion of representing our student body even though they don’t reflect everyone. I hope the rest of our student body is as hungry for change as I am.