posted on: Thursday September 14, 2017
By, Gabriella Pisano ’18
Assistant News Editor
While Hillary Clinton may not have won the 2016 presidential election, four female Providence College students, Phionna-Cayola Claude ’18, Marcie Mai ’18, Elizabeth Jancsy ’18, and Simran Madhani ’18, have been elected to serve as presidents of four of the College’s major clubs for the 2017-2018 academic year. Student Congress, the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Board of Programmers, and Friars Club each have women at the helm. Additionally, the entirety of the Student Congress and BMSA executive boards consist of female students.
These women are passionate about what their club represents, and each have goals that they would like to see carried out this year.
When PC opened in 1917, it was an all boys school. It was not until 1971 that PC admitted its first coeducational class to live on campus. “Even though it wasn’t until 2017, our class became the first class to successfully have all women presidents and a majority of its exec board be women,” said Claude, who stressed that this is very significant.
“I am thrilled to learn about the growing trend of female student leadership at Providence College,” said Dr. Abigail Brooks, director of the women’s studies department. “This increasing wave of multicultural female student leadership on campus is really exciting and encouraging. The more we see women, and importantly a diversity of women, inhabiting leadership roles, the more likely it is that other women can also imagine themselves in these roles.”
The executive team of Friars Club, the club on campus most known for wearing white jackets while giving tours to prospective students and their families, is responsible for a great deal of planning.
When discussing goals for this academic year, Madhani, president of the club, said, “Friars Club has had a long‑standing tradition in promoting scholarship and the values of the Judeo-Christian heritage of service. As a club, we hope to deepen our relationship with the surrounding Smith Hill community through activities and events that build greater connections and understanding between the two communities.”
President of Board of Programmers, Jancsy, stressed the idea of inclusion at the BOP events. “BOP has many goals for this coming year, but one that is a constant goal we strive for in our events is inclusion,” stated Jancsy. “This past year we held our first annual all school dance, ‘The Black and White Ball,’ and we were blown away by its success. Seeing students from every grade come together for one night was truly magical and such an honor to be a part of. Typically our dances are grade restricted, but allowing for a dance where every grade was included brought all our Friars together! We hope to plan more events like this in the future!”
“All PC students, regardless of their ethnicity, are greatly encouraged to participate with all cultural clubs on campus,” said the BMSA executive board as a team. BMSA represents all of the multicultural clubs under Student Congress and oversees the multicultural committees, including African American Society, Circolo Italiano, Gaelic Society, and the Middle Eastern Student Association. “In order to fulfill this goal, we strive to serve as a channel of resources, support, leadership, and vitality,” the executive board said.
“The main responsibilities of Congress are to act as the governing student body on campus. In other words, to utilize all necessary resources to continuously improve the student life on campus,” said Claude, who was on their board last year as well. “As representatives of the greater student body, we strive to unite students and create opportunities for students to flourish and gain the most out of their four years here at PC.”
Each of these young women expressed their excitement about the impact they can have on PC.
“I am honored to be among incredible women that have the ambition and drive to leave this campus better than they found it,” said Madhani. “The spaces being created for women and their leadership potential is admirable and speaks to the change that women can affect.” She went on to explain that the PC community has shown the utmost support of women in leadership roles, and she hopes to see this support replicated on not just a national scale, but a global scale.
There are many other clubs on campus that have female student leaders, but it is significant that women run these clubs that are not overtly geared towards women.
The positive influence of female role models for young women cannot be overlooked. “I truly want to thank Sharon Hay, Director of Student Activities & Cultural Programming, for being the role model that she is to myself and all of us on the Board,” said Jancsy. “It is a gift to work along-side three other female executive presidents, but it is also a gift to learn from a strong and smart female as well.”
Observing that not only are there women in these positions, but women of diverse backgrounds, Claude said, “I feel empowered. For the first time in 100 years of this institution being founded, the biggest organizations and clubs on campus all have female presidents and predominately female exec board members. Additionally, there is a presence of multicultural woman standing in those positions, which is so wonderful.”
Brooks explained, “It is my hope that this rising trend of multicultural female student leadership at the College may be foreshadowing a parallel movement when it comes to the representation of women in American politics. I am inspired by the message of inclusion—and the constructive power of a learning community built in and through respect for diversity and difference—that this rising tide of multicultural female student leadership on our campus represents and engenders.”