UC: diversity in leadership
As a result of my post below, a conversation began about women and minorities on the Council and in leadership positions in general. Lori Adelman, the Vice Chair of FiCom and one of a few rising star sophomores on the Council, posted a comment that I thought I would bring to the front page to continue this conversation. She begins by quoting the commenter before her:
"More minorities should run. More non-straights should run. That's something that NO ONE can control but minorities and non-straights."(more in expanded post)
Wow I'm going to have to seriously disagree with anonymous' assertion here. There are many factors involved in forming tickets, not the least of which is appeal to voters. And as long as there are negative stereotypes floating around in our less-than-perfect society, subtly or not-so-subtly influencing the opinions and decisions of who is leadership material, we have to acknowledge that race and gender act as hindrances to one's appeal to voters, making it harder for women and minorities to get elected. This is certainly a factor in why many qualified and otherwise enthusiastic minority/women candidates choose to "play second string" to more popular straight white male figureheads (Not that I've seen THAT happening anywhere lately.)
Because of these negative stereotypes and latent ideas about what the UC president should look like, minorities/women often have to do more to achieve the same respect and political clout as white males in a wholly intolerant society. For example, if a female UC candidate had as notorious a dating/hooking up record of some white male candidates who have graced the UC political scene, she would not even be considered as a viable candidate and wouldn't even be able to garner respect from the campus. It's naive to say that UC-hopefuls aren't aware of this inherent disadvantage and don't react to it accordingly.This, I think, is a phenomenally good explanation from someone who has to deal with this on a day to day basis. What are your thoughts?
So it's clear to me that individual people's decisions (women and non-whites included) about whether or not to run are not actually individual at all. In fact, as most of our decisions are, they are influenced by their understanding of their society (I hate the vagueness of that term), of this campus culture. I know personally as one of two black female UC members, my expected role on the council is often different than the more "conventional" politicians, white straight males. I think that it's safe to say to anyone who acknowledges the reality of the power of race and gender on this campus that someone like me has to prove my competency while male or white candidates may only have to affirm theirs.
(I do realize that in this comment I'm making something of a generalization here. I realize that there are some people on this campus who can act from a completely unbiased and tolerant mindset, but I think the majority of the campus, myself included, would have to be admit that we are not completely resistant to the tons of subtle and not-so-subtle messages we receive every day that give us negative ideas about minorities and women and leave us less inclined to give them leadership roles above us.)
On another level, it means something fundamentally different for a minority candidate to win a UC election among a majority-white campus than it does for a white candidate to do the same thing, simply because of people's psychological tendencies to relate to people who look like them. This is another way in which there are inherent disadvantages to women/minority UC-hopefuls that have nothing to do with being their fault and are certainly not in their control.
So, I think for all these reasons that almost everyone on this campus has influence over who feels comfortable and confident enough to run and who doesn't, and to this extent, the complete and realistic picture is that minorities and non-straights are certainly not the only ones who have control over whether or not they run and how they choose to form their tickets.