Women in ASCWU on the rise

Edith Rojas is the first female ASCWU Student Government president in 10 years

Mariah Valles, Managing Editor

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Self-doubt, pushback from male peers and negative stereotypes often plague women in leadership roles. For Edith Rojas, the climb to the top of ASCWU Student Government has included these adversities.

Following her freshman year, Rojas deeply considered transferring out of CWU. After learning about a successful broadcast-field alumnus from the University of Oregon (UO), Rojas filed an application to transfer. However, once she learned she got a job as an orientation leader and later a resident assistant at CWU, she decided to stay in Ellensburg.

According to Rojas, being involved with campus activities can, “make or break your experience and time at CWU.”

Toward the end of her sophomore year, Rojas planned to cover the ASCWU debates for Central Newswatch. Less than three days after, Rojas ran into General Manager Jeff MacMillan at 88.1 The ‘Burg. MacMillan encouraged Rojas to apply for Vice President of Academic Affairs for the 2017-18 school year. Rojas ran for the position and won.  

Being a woman in leadership

Rojas was originally unsure if she wanted to run for president for the 2018-19 school year. She asked herself, “Do I really want to do this?”

She thought back to her freshman year where the student body president was a male, as were the student body presidents her sophomore and junior years. Rojas remembers walking past the former presidents and watching the way they carried themselves. She thought about the high expectations that are held for the ASCWU president.

“I just wasn’t sure if I was that person,” Rojas said. “I was on the fence and doubting myself.”

A male peer once suggested Rojas apply to be under the student body president, rather than run for office.

Rojas had support from those around her which was all she needed in order to run for the position.

“Sometimes you’re not always going to have someone there that’s going to be encouraging you. Instead it might be more negative voices, but you just have to keep believing in yourself; know your strengths and just go with it.”

As for being the first female ASCWU president in 10 years, Rojas said the administration is supportive, but some struggles exists with her male peers. Rojas said she gets mocked at times and that her title is thrown at her in a negative manner.

“Okay, Miss President,” some of her peers have said.

Rojas expressed she is still adjusting to her title. Rojas feels she can still be herself, but is held to a higher standard with her position.

She added when you work somewhere, in most cases you can take off your uniform and nobody would ever know you worked there. “When you’re a student body president, no matter what you wear, you’re still a student body president,” Rojas said.

Women in leadership at CWU

Maurice Watkins, Vice President of Equity and Community Affairs works hands-on with CWU students by overseeing eight organizations representing marginalized groups on campus.

“It’s really great when you see a woman in a leadership role,” Watkins said. “Being the way our society is made up today it’s still frowned-upon sadly after years and years.”

Watkins believes having women in leadership roles at CWU is very important and completely supports it.

“It’s a wonderful accomplishment and it’s wonderful to see when women are put in leadership roles,” Watkins said.

This year the ASCWU Student Government consists of two males and five females.

“I do believe it [women in leadership] is on the uprise and I believe that’s a great thing and I hope that it continues to remain on the increase,” Watkins said.

Junior Claire-Ann Grepo, Vice President of Academic Affairs, is a first-generation Filipino-American student at CWU.

Being involved with ASCWU as a woman and as a part of a marginalized group on campus is “a lot of pressure,” Grepo said. “You don’t really know what you’re getting yourself in to.”

Grepo said there are a lot of stereotypes and high expectations that a woman is held accountable for. Rather than let the stereotypes get her down, Grepo uses them to push herself to work harder and be the best she can be, regardless of her gender.

Grepo currently holds the position Rojas held last year.

“I’ve seen the way she [Rojas] leads and the things that she’s done. I’ve seen her face issues with other people that might doubt her and how she responds to that,” Grepo said.

Grepo was trained for her position by Rojas, which she’s grateful for and praised her resiliency.

“It’s easy to get let down because you have such high standards but I’ve seen Edith get back up and I do not doubt that she will be amazing,” Grepo said. “I’m really excited to see what she has coming.”

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Women in ASCWU on the rise