Auburn students will soon elect a new SGA president, vice president
At the same time, they’ll elect a new Miss Auburn, which is problematic.
The overlap of SGA elections and Miss Auburn elections forces a choice between running for a position of power or a position steeped in tradition. This choice can be a disincentive for women aspiring to serve the student body in its top elected position.
The Miss Auburn election should be moved to a more convenient time to allow women to run for both Miss Auburn or a higher position within SGA — or it should be eliminated altogether.
While most Miss Auburn candidates might not have wanted to run for SGA, some surely would have considered it if they didn’t have to choose between the two.
The implications of Miss Auburn as the feminine position in springs elections may draw hopefuls who feel they have a better shot as Miss Auburn rather than a higher position.
She has to choose.
Should she take the traditionally feminine role of Miss Auburn or try her hand at running Auburn’s student government?
Miss Auburn was conceived to give women a voice. Today, thankfully, that voice can be heard from almost all positions of power in society. Women are taking more leadership positions, and relegating women to roles created only for women is not the right message to send.
Miss Auburn began in 1934 as the “official hostess of Auburn University” — a female foil to the nearly all-male student government executive council at that time. That was fine more than 80 years ago, but now it’s antiquated, as evidenced by the office of SGA president being currently held by a woman.
There is no doubt that Miss Auburn is a beloved tradition, and the officeholder, who acts as the hostess of the University and as an honorary War Eagle Girl, is admired throughout the Auburn Family.
That being said, as the campaigns for Miss Auburn are changing from passion-driven platforms to selecting a favorite line from the Auburn Creed, the role and power of the position diminishes. The platforms were perhaps one of the position’s only redeeming features, and throwing them to the trash heap was the wrong move, even though the change was well-intentioned and intended to better define the role of Miss Auburn.
The role of Miss Auburn should change with the times, but it’s the timing of her selection that is a greater concern. A strong and influential woman who could be both a strong SGA president and Miss Auburn cannot realistically run for both.
That ends up weakening both roles. Some women who run for Miss Auburn would make fine SGA presidential candidates, while women who might give Miss Auburn a real platform and purpose might opt to run for SGA. Women shouldn’t have to choose.
In Auburn’s history, out of more than 90 student body presidents, only three have been women. One has to wonder just how many Miss Auburn candidates would have chosen instead to run for SGA if the traditional role of Miss Auburn wasn’t on the table.
Jacqueline Keck, the current SGA president, has done an outstanding job fighting for student initiatives and serves as an inspiration for both Auburn women and men. She represents student interests. While she is no hostess, she is definitely and deservedly the face of our student body.
All of this isn’t to say that Miss Auburn can’t be effective.
Our current Miss Auburn, Ashley Moates, has accomplished much in her tenure. Her platform, AUsome Dreams, has been successful in helping realize Auburn-related dreams for those with disabilities. Her work as Miss Auburn should serve as the standard for all who hold the office.
But changes should be made to ensure Miss Auburn can continually serve as an inspiration to our changing campus and not as an echo of bygone times.
The election of Miss Auburn should be held separate from SGA elections so women are not forced to choose between aspirations of higher office and Auburn tradition. And the two positions should not be equated by having candidates run at the same time.
The office of Miss Auburn should be empowered through money and resources from SGA and the University to accomplish positive goals along with serving as a hostess of the University, if as a hostess at all.
The student body’s expectations of Miss Auburn should also adapt, as we should expect a holistic impact from all holders of public office on campus.
Yes, Miss Auburn is a cherished tradition. But absent these reforms, we wonder if there should be a Miss Auburn at all.