By Hannah Patterson
With the election of Paige Shiring, Liliana Ogden, and Gabby Douthitt as TCU’s 2020-2021 student body officers, the university made history with the first all-female group leading the Student Government Association (SGA) since its inception 107 years ago.
“You’d think this is an easy accomplishment, something a lot more realistic,” Vice President Liliana Ogden expressed. “The fact that it is 2020 and we’re finally doing it is absolutely exciting.”
Student Body Treasurer Gabby Douthitt emphasized the way women are bold and caring in their advocacy and work.
“One of my big things is how strong women are, but they’re also so compassionate,” she explains. “All the women – like Vivian, Paige, Liliana – we’re all super compassionate people, and we care a lot for even each other, and in turn, we care a lot about students. A group of women leaders is really awesome.”
Ogden’s win came after a very intense campaign process, but she found her strength in her campaign team and listening intently to what students want.
“It was frustrating and exhausting and exciting,” Ogden describes. “I have started talking to people and seeing where everyone’s heart is and what they’re fighting for at TCU, and it has definitely been the best part.”
Douthitt ran unopposed with a campaign program divided into 4 main categories- equitable organization funding, financial transparency, lifetime financial awareness, and officer availability.
“The main thing I want to work on is the way people view how TCU spends money,” she expands. “One project I’m getting started on is going through the budget and taking that $90 that comes out of student fees paid to the university and calculating where the money goes. I want people to see the money they pay is used for good and used to enhance the student experience of all people.”
Ogden organized with three main goals- mental health awareness, education, and resources, Fort Worth and TCU transportation systems, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training for faculty, staff, and student leaders.
“I have this awesome platform but let’s see it put to use,” Ogden says. “Empowering marginalized voices is huge so let’s give them the numbers of people they need; let me support however I can.”
Student Body President Paige Shiring acknowledged the way this year looks different for SGA and campus as we work through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This year we face many unknowns and must persevere in the face of our own imperfections, constantly striving for better,” Shiring expounds on the TCU SGA Instagram. “Our community must continually challenge, support, and inspire one another, as I hope to do as an advocate for the student body.”
With these women making history, it opens up the possibility of other women feeling inspired by the representation.
“Freshmen can see this and go, ‘Oh, there’s all women leading SGA right now; I want to do that with my friends and create change on campus,’ and I think that’s really cool, so it’s a shame that this is the first time it’s ever happened,” Douthitt conveyed.
The history-making team also brings new perspectives to TCU’s SGA that has had several male leaders in the past.
“The difference in thought and action is something female leaders bring as we’ve never seen before,” Ogden reveals. “We can use this momentum with these diverse thoughts to challenge the norm and what has been considered the so-called ‘right way’ to do something.”
Douthitt sees this moment as a powerful way for women to verbalize their ideas and utilize their voices that have been silenced in the past.
“It takes away that hierarchy that can happen when a guy is president and there is a feeling that you have to just listen to what he says because of his position of authority,” she outlined. “But I think with us all being women and having Paige as the first woman in command, it gives us the ability to bounce ideas off each other, and it makes me feel like I want to be bolder and speak up more.”
The women in charge are not letting the circumstances of the pandemic hold them back from all they’re capable of doing.
“Our position has been cut short by four months, but I want to make sure we’re continuing to advocate and empower students’ voices and that they remember we’re always here to connect with them,” Ogden voiced.
The three officers have created room for the conversation of gender equality in representation and action on campus as they work toward a better future for the university.
“I’ve been thinking about the way women can and will take over someday, and I think it’s so fun,” Douthitt exclaimed. “I definitely feel empowered by all of it.”