Though we live in a country that has never seen a female president, we are lucky to attend a school in which we look to a female student president and vice president duo for leadership. It may come as a surprise, however, that this seemingly accepted norm of women in power is relatively new.
Notre Dame remained an all-male institution until 1972, and it was not until 29 years later, in 2001, that Notre Dame elected its first female student body president.
That year’s election issue of Scholastic detailed all the candidates and their campaign promises. According to Scholastic’s editorial, the election marked a “watershed moment in Notre Dame’s history” as five out of six tickets featured at least one woman, while two of the tickets included black candidates.
Brooke Norton, then a junior government major, ran alongside sophomore Brian Moscona and won. Their campaign platform included many critical student requests, according to Scholastic writer Sarah Childress, some of which included: “Establishing a 24-hour convenience store and gift shop in LaFortune, extending weekday parietals to 1 a.m. … and installing cable TVs in each dorm room.”
Though Norton had a large influence on student affairs and set many plans into motion — including prompting the construction of our beloved Huddle — her victory symbolized something far more significant. Norton’s presidency was representative of the larger movement to recognize female capability, and paved the way for female students in ensuing years to follow in her footsteps, encouraging them to run for and assume their own positions of leadership. With Norton’s example in mind, students at Notre Dame must continually strive for progress by creating and ensuring an open and equal campus environment for all.